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Author vs. Narrator: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 6, 2023
An author is the creator and original writer of a literary work. The narrator is the voice or character that tells the story within that work.

Key Differences

The terms author and narrator, while both associated with literature, serve distinct roles in the realm of storytelling. An author is the individual responsible for composing and creating the original content of a literary piece. This individual brings to life the plot, characters, setting, and themes, using their unique perspective and style. Authors exist outside the story they pen, crafting narratives based on inspiration, experiences, or pure imagination.
Contrastingly, the narrator is the voice or entity within the story that relates events to the reader. Narrators might be characters in the story, offering a firsthand account, or they could be external entities providing a third-person perspective. The relationship between the author and narrator is intricate. While the author creates the narrator, the narrator's voice, opinions, and perceptions aren't necessarily those of the author.
For instance, in fiction, authors often develop narrators that possess beliefs or views vastly different from their own. These narrators provide depth and diversity to the narrative. Hence, while the author is the mastermind behind a work's existence, the narrator is the lens through which readers experience the tale.
Furthermore, it's worth noting that while every literary work has an author, not all need a clear, defined narrator. Some stories are written in such a way that events seem to unfold on their own without a distinct voice guiding the narrative. In such cases, the boundary between author and narrator might appear blurred, but the distinction remains: the author is the creator, and the narrator, if present, is the storyteller.

Comparison Chart


The creator and writer of a literary work
The voice or character that conveys the story


Exists outside the story
Exists within the story


Personal, real-world perspective
Can be first-person, third-person, omniscient, etc.


One per work (generally)
Multiple narrators possible in a single work

Personal Beliefs

Not always reflected in the work
Can possess distinct beliefs and perspectives

Author and Narrator Definitions


A person who commits or carries out a specific act.
The author of that crime was never found.


An individual who describes events in a documentary or show.
The narrator of the documentary had a deep, resonant voice.


The writer of a particular work, article, or report.
The author of the article remains anonymous.


The teller of events in a story, distinct from the author.
The unreliable narrator made readers question the truth.


A person who originates or gives existence to something.
She is the author of her own destiny.


A character or entity that recounts events in a literary work.
The narrator in The Catcher in the Rye is Holden Caulfield.


The writer of a book, article, or other text.


Someone who provides commentary or elucidation.
The play had a narrator who explained historical context.


One who practices writing as a profession.


The voice that communicates directly with readers or listeners.
The story's narrator provided insightful commentary.


One who writes or constructs an electronic document or system, such as a website.


A person who narrates, such as one who provides off-screen commentary in a documentary.


An originator or creator, as of a theory or plan.


A character in literature, especially a novel or short story, who relates the plot and sometimes plays a role in the story.


Author God.


A character in a fictional movie, play, or similar production who comments on what is happening, often through voice-over.


To write or be the author of (a published text).


One who narrates or tells stories.


To write or construct (an electronic document or system)
Authored the company's website.


(narratology) The person or the "voice" whose viewpoint is used in telling a story.


The originator or creator of a work, especially of a literary composition.
The copyright of any original writing belongs initially and properly to its author.
Have you read any Corinthian authors?


The person providing the voice-over in a documentary.


Someone who writes books for a living.


One who narrates; one who relates a series of events or transactions.




Someone who tells a story


(obsolete) One's authority for something: an informant.


To create a work as its author.


The beginner, former, or first mover of anything; hence, the efficient cause of a thing; a creator; an originator.
Eternal King; thee, Author of all being.


One who composes or writes a book; a composer, as distinguished from an editor, translator, or compiler.
The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.


The editor of a periodical.


An informant.


To occasion; to originate.
Such an overthrow . . . I have authored.


To tell; to say; to declare.
More of him I dare not author.


Writes (books or stories or articles or the like) professionally (for pay)


Someone who originates or causes or initiates something;
He was the generator of several complaints


Be the author of;
She authored this play


The individual who writes and creates a literary piece.
The author of that novel won multiple awards.


The initiator or cause of a situation or event.
He was the author of his own downfall.


Can an author also be a narrator?

Yes, especially in autobiographical works.

Does every story have a narrator?

Most do, but some narratives might not have a distinct voice.

Can an author's voice be present in a story?

Authors might leave subtle traces, but they're distinct from the narrator's voice.

Are authors real while narrators are fictional?

Authors are real individuals, while narrators are typically fictional constructs.

Why might an author choose a specific narrator?

To offer a unique perspective, evoke emotions, or serve the story's theme.

What's an "unreliable narrator"?

A narrator whose credibility is compromised.

Are the narrator's opinions always those of the author?

No, narrators can possess differing or even opposing views.

Who decides the narrator's perspective?

The author chooses or creates the narrator's point of view.

What's the primary distinction between an author and a narrator?

An author creates the literary work, while a narrator tells the story within it.

Can a book have multiple narrators?

Yes, some stories switch between different narrators.

Is the narrator always a character in the story?

No, narrators can also be external, omniscient entities.

Can there be a story without an author?

Every story has a creator, making the author integral.

Do all narrators speak?

No, some might just convey events without dialogue.

Do poems have narrators?

Many poems have a speaker, which can be seen as a form of narrator.

Can a narrator's identity be a twist in a story?

Yes, some stories reveal the narrator's identity as a plot twist.

Why is the distinction between author and narrator important?

It aids in understanding narrative structure, perspective, and literary analysis.

Do narrators know everything?

Some, called "omniscient narrators," know all, while others might be limited.

How does one identify the narrator in a story?

By discerning whose voice or perspective guides the narrative.

Are memoirs written by narrators?

Memoirs blur the lines, as the author is often the narrator recounting personal experiences.

Who has control over the story, the author or the narrator?

The author controls the overall story, including the narrator's role.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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