Structuring a Story: Linear VS Non-Linear
Thanks to everyone who took part in last week's workshop! <3
I'm looking for people to help run workshops (more detail at bottom).
So now that we’ve talked about how to kick start our imagination, we now need to start putting those ideas on paper. I was going to do an article on planning Project Educate’s story planning week was not long ago. There’s a roundup of PE’s story planning week here: beccalicious.deviantart.com/jo…
I recommend it; it’s very useful and interesting.
So now onto structure.
I like to split structure up into two categories: linear structure and non-linear structure (simple, eh?). Linear being when the events of the story happen in chronological order eg Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.
Non-linear allows for detailed or in-depth flash backs, or may start at the end of a story, or even the middle of a story, and have the narrative jump back and forth. This is probably more difficult, but if done correctly can be epic. Examples of this kind of structure can be found in many modern novels.
How do you decide which structure is right for you?
Well, you need to prepare yourself for a lot of redrafting. It’s useful begin a story with a linear structure. When this is finished, look at and decide if you’ve started in the right place. Ask someone to read it and ask them when they became interested. Start wherever the interest starts because, hey, let’s be honest. If someone finds the first paragraph boring, they’re probably going to quit reading. You’ll have to decide if the information before the new starting point is essential or not, and then you can either get rid of it, or incorporate it somewhere else in the story.
Note how in A Song of Ice and Fire (AKA Game of Thrones) George RR Martin doesn’t start by recounting the entire history of Westeros and Essos up until the part where the Starks go out and find the direwolves. This is because, although interesting, most readers like to be thrown into some action/dilemma/tension right from the beginning. So, if you’re writing something with a lot of back story, it might work in your favour to include flashbacks or drip feed us history, rather than “information dumping”.
I usually end up adding flashbacks as ways of revealing things about the character, but flashbacks often mean a lot of rewriting in order to ensure that the transition in and out of flashback is not only clear, but also smooth.
You can signal breaks in time or flashbacks etc by --- or *** but personally, I find it a bit damaging to the flow, unless of course, it’s a break for another chapter. It’s much better to try and make the transition smooth by using signposts such as “Sara thought back to her days in primary school” (but probably not as obvious/corny as this one).
Flashbacks can be great for building tension by revealing aspects of the story/character that are important in the line of events.
Right, so I’m sure you’re all very good at writing stories using a completely linear structure, so what I want you to do is write a story in which the narrative begins somewhere else, so you either have to flashback, drip feed more information, or… well just something that means we’ve had to have a bit of a transition.
After that, submit your piece to the current workshops folder in the PocketStories
Please make sure there are questions for the critic in the artist's comments, this makes it a lot easier when we come around to critiquing each other.
Also, please fav+feature this journal so that we find more participants.
Deadline: Sunday the 16th of March Word limit: 2000 words
Right, so I'm also looking for some people to run workshops. Please send me a note if you would like to run a workshop on something you feel that you do well in your writing. Or, note me the name of someone you think would like to run a workshop.