For a long time now I’ve been juggling a handful of sketches for a book idea – one where the reader is the killer. Not the narrator, but the reader.
I’ve long thought the narrator is a separate character, a disassociated voice, with their own personality and quirks. Sometimes they get the details wrong (the unreliable narrator), or just plain lie, but usually they have some insight into the characters thoughts. However voiced, the narrator remains inside the book. Close the cover and the voice is dead sleeping Dormant.
But what if we break that supposedly immutable fourth wall and bring the narrator into the plot? This is done brilliantly in The NeverEnding Story… where our charmingly un-plucky young hero discovers the book he is reading is about himself. This was magnificently published in a book that felt just like the one described in the book itself, with an embossed front cover, and red and green text. A story that went on forever, in time and vertical space.
But what if you, the reader, are the killer? How do I, the narrator, talk to you, the reader? First Person point of view comes to mind, but FPV can still take on the idea of a third person. In Fight Club the first person POV is still undeniably someone else.
I am John’s ponderous medulla.
There are some things we all share. You’ve probably seen those Horoscope debunking videos where everyone is given the same horoscope and told that it has been created especially for them. Lo-and-behold everyone is surprised to learn we share traits we think are unique.
Perhaps you, being a person nearish your thirties, have many Facebook friends but only a few you can trust, are a little perverted. Not anything you’d want to share with your friends or family, but nothing you’d tell your partner either. You are not so easily fooled by horoscopes, perhaps you are, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been a very naughty boy girl person. I’m not going to get into gender identity of a murderous reader, that’s an entirely different kind of story, but I will need to know things about you, like what TV programs you like (Friends, Cosmos, maybe HIMYM).
In short, for you to be the killer you need to know that I know that you’ve been thinking about killing your boss. (Good lucking untangling that one!)
Boss because it is probably the only universal murderous fantasy people share (I am my own boss so we won’t get into that).
So you did it, now I, the narrator, have to figure out how you did it, and how it was done. I’m hot on the trail, you’ll have to turn the page to find out if I catch you.