Audience Surrogate

1. What is it?

An audience surrogate is a character who acts on behalf of the audience within a story. This character watches the main action and asks the questions to which the audience wants to know the answers.

The surrogate is often made the narrator. This allows the audience experience the story as the surrogate observes and asks questions.

The most famous example of an audience surrogate is Dr. Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

2. How is it made?

Create a secondary character close to the main protagonists.This character is often made the narrator.
Have that character witness key events and ask the protagonists questions that explain the story to the audience.

3. Examples

Dr. Malek began working furiously, piecing together oddly-shaped equipment that had lain dormant. In his fervour he quite forgot I was present.
“Dr. Malek? What are you doing?”
My voice woke him, like a pin through a bubble.
“Oh, yes, Algy. What am I doing? Well, it is quite difficult to explain the what-do-you-think-about-thats, but I believe the Vistamen mutation can be reversed.”
“Reversing Vistamen? I didn’t think that was possible. How did you suddenly find the answer?”
“Sometimes even a doctor’s brain needs a bit of luck. You see, when you offered me one of your fig rolls, I remembered strangler figs. I thought maybe, if we injected bone marrow inside the cell, the process would turn inwards and start devouring itself.”
“Genius” I said.

The Kanpeki society was quite curious, for the people never appeared to work hard and yet the streets were filled with the glossiest buildings. Gruda noticed the group’s admiration for the architecture.
“Yes, you are wondering ‘Where are the construction sites? Where is the noise?” Fear not, those questions will be answered by the Chief Architect when we see him this afternoon.”
“Can you explain the welfare system?” one tourists asked.
“I am just the guide” Guda replied. “But we can ask some of the street traders on our way to the restaurant. They will give you an idea of how our system works.”

4. Task

Write a short interaction in which an audience surrogate talks to a main protagonist.