Non Linear Storytelling

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  • Non Linear Storytelling

    To those who have attempted this style, please share your trials, tribulations, and truimphs.
    "I ask every producer I meet if they need TV specs they say yeah. They all want a 40 inch display that's 1080p and 120Hz. So, I quit my job at the West Hollywood Best Buy."
    - Screenwriting Friend

  • #2
    Re: Non Linear Storytelling

    I've found that there always needs to be one narrative thread that stays chronological. Look at the phone-call narrative from Memento. Look at the Dresden narrative from Slaughterhouse Five.

    I think that without that "home base" chronological narrative intercut with the other non-linear scenes, it will usually be much more difficult for many readers/viewers to follow the plot.

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    • #3
      Re: Non Linear Storytelling

      The scenes are shown in reverse order in Memento, but each scene reveals information that modifies our understanding of the preceding scenes. So while the story is backwards, it's still linear. All effective storytelling is linear when you get down to the bones of it.

      Tarantino was hailed as an innovator when Pulp Fiction came out, but "non-linear" storytelling is actually pretty common. Think of how many movies utilize flashbacks. Any time you're using an event that happened in the past to modify our understanding of the present, you're using "non-linear" storytelling. The difference is that most flashbacks are brief whereas Pulp Fiction's were quite long.

      I don't think writing a "non-linear" script would be that different from writing a normal script. In order to do either effectively, a writer must understand how to feed his audience information that modifies their experience of the information that follows. A good writer of fiction thinks sequentially and understands how the pieces of his plot interact with one another. That stuff is just basic fiction writing 101.

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      • #4
        Re: Non Linear Storytelling

        the transitions are tough.

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        • #5
          Re: Non Linear Storytelling

          What's linear? Time... or story?

          I've done all kinds of stuff that was story-linear but not time-linear.

          - Bill
          Free Script Tips:
          http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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          • #6
            Re: Non Linear Storytelling

            Originally posted by DaltWisney View Post
            Tarantino was hailed as an innovator when Pulp Fiction came out, but "non-linear" storytelling is actually pretty common. Think of how many movies utilize flashbacks. Any time you're using an event that happened in the past to modify our understanding of the present, you're using "non-linear" storytelling. The difference is that most flashbacks are brief whereas Pulp Fiction's were quite long.
            Well, what Pulp Fiction did was to put an exclamation point on that style of filmmaking, very much in the same way as The Matrix did nothing new but was the bellwether that introduced mainstream American audience to filmmaking techniques previously unfamiliar to them.

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            • #7
              Re: Non Linear Storytelling

              Hard me looks it too far to.
              TimeStorm & Blurred Vision Book info & blog: https://stormingtime.com//

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              • #8
                Re: Non Linear Storytelling

                I think it's very easy to allow all your focus to drift toward plot when attempting this and that's a mistake in my opinion. You have to be overtly conscious of character development, too. Even though the characters obviously won't be developed in the linear fashion, a different layer of each onion still needs to be peeled back with each new scene regardless of the chronological time line. The reader/viewer must always get a sense that they're gaining an increasingly deeper understanding of the characters at all times.
                "I hate to break it to you but there is no big lie. There is no system. The universe is indifferent.- - Don Draper

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                • #9
                  Re: Non Linear Storytelling

                  Originally posted by wcmartell View Post
                  What's linear? Time... or story?

                  I've done all kinds of stuff that was story-linear but not time-linear.

                  - Bill
                  Good question, Bill. Both.
                  "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
                  -Maya Angelou

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