For a little homework, I have a good story, but its not a story that can be told by letting it unfold and writing the events that happened.

What I want to do, is tell a story of events in the past that changed the future to what it is now. I would like to have a narrator telling the story of what happened, like an omnipotent voice that tells you what's going on. To underline this omnipotent voice telling you the story of the past, I want to be able to describe the events and characters that were involved. I would like to be able to have a storyteller, describing what is going on in the story basically.

How would I write this?

  • I'm finding your question very unclear in present form. Is your problem that it can't be told by letting it unfold and narrating its events? You ask if it's possible for an omnipotent narrator to describe the suicide -- why would that not be possible? What's the difficulty that's holding you back here?
    – Standback
    Mar 19, 2016 at 20:16
  • @Standback I edited it Mar 19, 2016 at 20:30
  • Hmmm, I'm not seeing an edit. Can you check that it went through?
    – Standback
    Mar 19, 2016 at 20:31
  • @Standback Now I edited it, I posted the comment before finishing my edit sorry. Mar 19, 2016 at 20:33
  • OK, let me see if I understand: You want to have a "narrator" voice, distinct from any of the characters, who's omniscient and telling the story - but also has his own "voice," tone, feel to him. And he narrates the story, describes what's going on. And you're asking... what, exactly? Whether it's OK to do that?
    – Standback
    Mar 19, 2016 at 20:36

4 Answers 4


As with most of the "laws" of writing, Show-Don't-Tell is more of a recommendation than an absolute rule. It is not like some potential reader is going to glance at the first line of your story, then scream "TELLING!" while tossing your hard-won words into the fireplace.

You are "allowed" to share your story using whatever technique or method you choose. (unless this is for a writing class in which case ignore everything I have said here).

That having been said, I would question if an omnipotent narrator, (a.k.a. distant third person narration) is a good choice for a piece about suicide. Suicide is an intensely personal subject and is overflowing with emotional and philosophical potential. Every good suicide scene that I have ever written was written as close to the victim as possible. Try a first person POV, spoken by the now-ghost of the victim. You might be surprised by what you create.

  • I think the complete rule is "Show, don't tell, except when you tell." Mar 21, 2016 at 15:57

It seems you've answered your own question. How to tell a story that doesn't unfold naturally? One option is to use a first-person narrator.

Your narrator can be as spastic as you need, jumping around in time, focusing on one idea then another, switching perspectives as necessary. As long as they clearly orient the reader with each transition, making clear where and when we are each time.

Keep in mind, though, that scenes are typically more engaging than exposition. Have your narrator tell us stories about people in places doing things.


Sounds like what you are looking for is an understanding of what a framing device is and how it works.

You should understand, though, that not even a framing device will disoblige you from creating a narrative.


All stories (narratives) unfold. It you ain't got a narrative, you ain't got a story. One thing happens after another over time told by someone. Of course, the time ordering is your choice. It can be chopped up several ways and played with many ways. You can tell it any way you want. The question is: Does it work? Will people want to read it. If I tell you how to write it, I would be writing it for you. That said, it you only describe the event, it sounds pretty b-o-r-i-n-g as in: He took 50 pills while sitting on the bed in the cold, uninviting cellar and then died. What may interest a reader on the other hand are the cumulative factors that led the poor person there....Just try it, I am sure you Cann do it.

  • Looks like I Cann do it "He could stand no more of this maelstrom of lugubrious hate, and plunged the blade of the gods into his mortified heart." This isn't a teenage suicide type thing, its a suicide to exit basically... Purgatory. Mar 19, 2016 at 18:32
  • I see. I did think you could write it. Dunno about lugubrious hate. Hate is usually sharp or pointy, wouldn't you say?Also, not sure the gods have a knife per se. Sounds like a furreign tale.
    – Lambie
    Mar 19, 2016 at 20:43

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