Radio Hed: Story Forms for Radio Writers – Unreliable Narrator

Radio-Hed-Logo-2By Jeffrey Hedquist

The voice of the commercial misrepresents the truth in some way. He/she could be biased, mentally ill, or experientially limited, like being a child. They might have trouble distinguishing between reality and fantasy, or have strong motivations to mold the truth to the way they see it.

The character’s unreliability can be made clear from the beginning and throughout the commercial, or can be revealed at the end as a plot twist.

It could be someone stranded on a desert island, at sea, in prison, lost in the woods, on a space station, etc. The character is describing or savoring something we think they’ve experienced, but may have never experienced, or cannot experience in their present situation.  They do it so vividly, that your audience is tantalized by the description. At the end it is revealed who and/or where they are, and that they’re living the experience vicariously.

“I am on a space module, two light years from Earth, but you can visit La Trattoria in only minutes.”

A person who in a sane and reasonable voice either objects to patronizing the advertiser because of some outrageously imaginative, yet untrue belief about the advertiser, or who buys from the advertisers because he or she attributes the advertiser with incredible magical powers.

“Yes, I agree that their homemade pies are some of the most delicious that can be found, and are made from scratch with all-natural ingredients and can be had at very reasonable prices… but I believe the recipes were beamed down from alien civilizations who wish to control our thoughts.”

A:“Oh sure, I got a good deal on a pre-owned car, but just interacting with their salesman for a few minutes cured my lifelong stuttering problem, gave me the inspiration to start a successful business, meet the person of my dreams, and pick a winning lottery ticket.”

B:“I’m sorry, I just can’t believe you.”

A:“What… do you hear me stuttering?”

© 1997-2013 Hedquist Productions, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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