Witness narrator characteristics, types and examples

Charles McCarthy

The witness narrator It is one who tells the events that occur within a story from his point of view, that is, he is an observer of all events. This type of narrator is part of the events, but he is not the main character or protagonist, so he knows and knows what happens from the outside.

On the other hand, this type of narrator does not know in depth the thoughts, ideas and feelings of the rest of the characters, but his story is limited to what he was able to witness as a witness. The story of the witness narrator can be given in the third person and sometimes in the first person singular..

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson; Holmes plays the role of narrator in The Greek Interpreter. Source: Sidney Paget [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Now, in the literary universe there are different types of narrators, who tell the story according to their participation in it. So the narrators can be: protagonist, omniscient, equiscient, multiple, deficient and encyclopedic narrator.

Article index

  • 1 Characteristics of the witness narrator
    • 1.1 - Secondary character
    • 1.2 - Limited
    • 1.3 - Suggestive and descriptive
    • 1.4 - Complicity with the reader
    • 1.5 - Own language
    • 1.6 - He is not the author of the work
  • 2 Types of witness narrator
    • 2.1 - Impersonal
    • 2.2 - Face-to-face
    • 2.3 - Informant
  • 3 Examples
    • 3.1 "The car murderer" (impersonal - Juan Ortiz)
    • 3.2 “José and la Llorona” (face-to-face- Juan Ortiz)
    • 3.3 Javier and his Super Nintendo (informant - Juan Ortiz)
  • 4 References

Characteristics of the witness narrator

The witness narrator presents the following characteristics:

- Secondary character

The witness narrator is a character who intervenes in the story, but events do not revolve around him. Therefore he tells the facts in the same way that he observed them, so his vision is objective.

- Limited

The fact of being a witness to what happens prevents this type of narrator from being in all the events of the story. His vision and knowledge about the thinking and feeling of the other characters are limited.

- Suggestive and descriptive

The witness narrator is in charge of describing only what he sees, in such a way that he does not issue opinions or value judgments. In any case, their assumptions about the thoughts, decisions, actions and feelings of the rest of the characters lack certainty..

- Complicity with the reader

The way in which the protagonist narrator tells the facts creates a direct and special bond with the reader, that happens precisely because of his quality of witness.

- Own language

The language used by the witness narrator is related to his character. This means that he tells the facts according to his personality and his particular way of thinking and feeling. Now, the above does not mean that the function of this narrator is no longer objective..

- He is not the author of the work

Although the witness narrator is not the protagonist of the story, he is not the author. Their participation is justified because this way the story is made known in a more precise and impartial way..

Types of witness narrator

Just as there are different types of narrators in the field of literature, the witness narrator also has several types. The most common are the following:

- Impersonal

The impersonal witness narrator tells the facts as if he were observing them from a screen, giving the feeling that he is not part of the story. Usually this type of narrator presents the events in the present tense.

- Face-to-face

The eyewitness is one of the most common narrators since in some way he participates in the story and tells things as he observed them, either in the past or present tense. His intervention to publicize the story is always objective.

- Informant

The informant witness narrator discloses the story as a transcript. This means that the facts are counted as if they were reflected in a document or report. Events can be narrated in the past or present.


Here are some examples of how you can make a play with a witness narrator:

"The car killer" (impersonal - Juan Ortiz)

The mystery man has been waiting on the corner for half an hour now. He has his car parked in front of a McDonalds. María leaves the house to look for José, her son. The child leaves school in 15 minutes.

The man in the car waits for the traffic light in front of him to turn red for Maria to pass. The woman, seeing the light in her favor, passes. The car is heard speeding up and violently taking Maria away, and she is left lying on the ground, with multiple fractures. The murderer stops the car, gets out, looks her in the eyes, smiles, and says: "I'm looking for José, don't worry." María goes into a crisis, and when she tries to scream a respiratory arrest occurs..

The man leaves, and nobody did anything. Not much is known about José, only that he is waiting for his mother at the school gate. The ambulance arrives at the scene and after a while the police arrive, but there is not enough evidence for them to deduce anything.

"José y la Llorona" (face-to-face- Juan Ortiz)

When I saw José run that morning, my eyes did not believe what they saw or my ears what they heard. He was noticeably drunk, I could tell from a distance by how he staggered and by the peculiar sound of his poorly articulated screams. The poor boy had no shirt, and he had some strange scratch marks on his body.

I, already awake because of the noise he made and as a charity to help him -because I knew him as a child-, I went out to help him. I stood in front of him and stopped his unsteady gait with my hands and my body (I'm noticeably bigger than him). He wouldn't stop shouting "La Llorona is chasing me, help, help." "Calm down, man," I repeated three times, but he ignored me. Fed up with the situation, I gave him a slap that allowed him to come to his senses. After five minutes, he began to tell me everything that happened ...

I may not have believed him, but 10 minutes after he began to tell his story, a ghost in a wedding dress approached us shouting its laments right from where José was running. I ... I had to run too.

Javier and his Super Nintendo (informant - Juan Ortiz)

What is going to be narrated here happened in a town in Nueva Esparta called Agua de Vaca, which is on Margarita Island. The story is about Javier, a 15-year-old young man, and a strange event that he lived through while playing on his Super Nintendo the morning after Christmas.

Javier always dreamed of having that video game console. For a whole year, he did the right things to win the favor of his parents and have them buy him the gift he longed for. The young man did excellent in his classes, he collaborated in the housework, helped in the community, in short, he did everything humanly possible, so his parents consented.

Everything was going well with the console, until, while playing scene two of the only video game that the device brought, he noticed that the scene that was shown in the background was very similar to his neighborhood. How curious, he told himself. For a moment he could see a building that looked like his house, so, out of curiosity, he decided to enter. The surprise was greater when he saw that the interior of that place was identical to the place where he had always lived.

He continued to browse and went to what was supposed to be his room. Just as he walked in, the unexpected happened. In real life his door opened too, the poor boy jumped up, and when he turned around, there he himself was on the threshold..

Yes, this seems fiction, but the truth is that for 20 years there has been a home in Agua de Vaca where two identical men live, and one of them came out of a video game.


  1. The witness narrator (narrator types 4). (2012). (N / A): Literautas. Recovered from: literautas.com.
  2. Storyteller. (2019). Spain: Wikipedia. Recovered from: es.wikipedia.org.
  3. Types of narrators and their characteristics. (2017). (N / A): Central de Escritura. Recovered from: centraldeescritura.com.
  4. 15 examples of narrator in first, second and third person. (2019). Colombia: Examples. Recovered from: examples.co.

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