1. What is it?

An unreliable narrator is a narrator whose version of events is not 100% guaranteed to be correct, or whose credibility is compromised and therefore cannot be wholly trusted.

2. How is it made?

First person account by witness to events.Personal flaws in witness, such as drug or alcohol abuse, bad eyesight, or history of lying.
 Ambiguous statements or events the narrator may have misunderstood.Use of uncertain phrases such as ‘I think’ and ‘it looked as if’.
Scepticism towards narrator from other characters.A counter account made by another witness who describes events differently.
Revelation in which the account is shown to be false, or the unreliable narrator is shown to be right despite others’ scepticism.

3. Examples

“Ms. Penwright, could you tell me what you saw on the night of the murder?”
“Objection! I would like it on record that the witness, Ms. Penwright, had been drinking that night.”
“Your objection is noted. But please, Ms. Penwright, proceed in telling us what you saw.”
“Very well. As the counsellor says, I had been drinking, at the Dog and Bone on French Street. I was with my friend Andrea and left at around 1.15, possibly 1.20. Andrea lives uptown so took a cab, and I walked. It was just as I was coming up to the corner of Janus Street that I saw what looked like a dog. But the closer I got, I could hear it wheezed like a larger animal. Then, I saw what it really was: a human on all fours.”

I reached out, my hand now against a cold hard surface. I knew this was the stairs, and I followed the bannister up. Then I stopped.
A slight tap had come from the bedroom.
“Aloka, is that you?”
I started again, but was still unfamiliar with this house. My feet tapped each step to make sure it was not the last. Then, as I reached the landing, I felt the air change, as if someone was standing close. The presence taller than Aloka.
“I don’t know you. I’m calling the police.”
This was my excuse to leave, my reason to go downstairs and out of this evil air. But my call was to Jermaine.
“There is somebody here” I told him.

4. Task

Write an account in which it is evident to the reader that the narrator is unreliable.