I don’t mean to brag, but I am the most famous of any author’s characters that you’ll never hear about.
Sometimes it annoys me that no one knows who I really am. I mean, who can forget some of these lines that I’ve penned? Incredibly famous lines like “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Or, how about this one? “It was a dark and stormy night…” One of my personal favorites was the set up line for Rhett Butler. “For a moment he hesitated, as if debating whether a kind lie were kinder in the long run than the truth.” Moments later, the famous line…” My dear, I don’t give a damn.”
So why don’t people recognize just how important I am? I let you smell the roses, taste fine wines, feel delicate textures. I give you the opportunity to feel the wind in your hair, and see grand vistas. The words I give you nuance feelings, allow you to intuit, sense danger, hear complex harmonies – but most people just move past these things that give the meaning to the actions and dialogue of the characters that I am joining. They want to speed to the action or the dialogue between the characters. It gets frustrating.
There are a few, though, that really appreciate me. They pause at the end of one of my lines and take the time to feel the context – see it in their mind. Think of this one – “He drew a short breath and said lightly but softly…” In that millisecond before the next line is read, you see him. He’s anxious, emotive; trying to be a gentleman as he is about to deliver a devastating blow to a woman for whom he has cared deeply. It’s Rhett, getting ready to tell Scarlett to go pound sand. Ok, that’s not what he said.
You get the idea. It’s the unspoken impressions that move the dialogue and guide the actions of the characters.
As frustrated as I am, I know a Narrator that gets far more frustrated than me. I’ve had the opportunity to work through some of the best pens the world has ever provided. But, this other Narrator is far better than me.
The other Narrator literally gets inside the head of the actors. He prompts them in all sorts of ways to see things that are truly spectacular – other worldly even. He gives them cues to move, speak, and act in ways that give them opportunity to turn in masterful performances; performances that will be remembered for decades, if not millennia. He can turn the most mediocre actor into the consummate Oscar performer.
And yet, many of the actors that he works with somehow feel that the Narration is not important. They try really hard to jump from one line of dialogue to the next; one action to the next. The performances become weak, unconvincing, a herky-jerky collection of scenes with no cohesiveness. Ultimately, they become frustrated, and even embarrassed, as they reflect on the scenes they’ve played.
The Narrator shakes his head, rolls his eyes, and says “It’s OK, we’ll get it next time”. This Narrator keeps coming back. He continues to offer guidance, encouragement, assurance, and strangely enough, fellowship. I just can’t get there.
You may not have ever met me, but you have the opportunity to meet and work with the greatest Narrator of all. The Great One is waiting for the next opportunity to work with the characters. You know the Narrator.
He’s whispering your next line. Are you listening?
The Narrator is…..