Nonlinear narrative

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nonlinear narrative, disjointed narrative or disrupted narrative is a narrative technique, sometimes used in literature, film, hypertext websites and other narratives, where events are portrayed, for example, out of chronological order or in other ways where the narrative does not follow the direct causality pattern of the events featured, such as parallel distinctive plot lines, dream immersions or narrating another story inside the main plot-line.

It is often used to mimic the structure and recall of human memory, but has been applied for other reasons as well.

To mimic human memory!?!  Nice.

It’s good to be back in thesis mode. During our first class of the semester, I made a bold gesture about working on my thesis a little every day.  While that might not have come to fruition, I have certainly been thinking about it every day and made up for any missed days by putting in more “working” hours in subsequent days.  I think I’ll keep my expectations where they are as a motivator.  A little bit each day still seems manageable.  And productive!

I spent some more time this week organizing my creative project into chronological order with my artifacts and some writing.  What I noticed was that many of the artifacts are letters.  I found that interesting considering my project is basically a collection of fictitious letters between me and my father.  There is something significant about correspondence and I like the idea of layering my fictional letters with these “real” letters. I feel like it further blurs the line between what is real and fake, in a way.

After seeing some of the outline come together, I returned to thinking about the best order for the final presentation of my work. I am thinking of this first draft as a way for me to keep track of what I have and I want to include, but realized that it is probably not the most powerful way to tell my story. Alan and I talked about many possibilities, including reverse chronological order and I am feeling drawn to that idea at the moment. This feeling was bolstered, once again, by the TV show This is Us.  It’s effective experimentation with time-order during last night’s episode was inspiring. This leads me to an interesting thing that happened during my research this week.  I googled my father’s name.  It led me to a site.  I have been there before but now was looking at it through a different lens.  Basically, people (myself included) write to my father through these little posts.  The most recent posts are first. They go back to 2001.   So I started reading. Each one.  I came upon a few I wrote myself and had forgotten about.  My mother’s yearly posts on his birthday and 9/11 and their anniversary.  The further back in time the posts went, the more raw and emotional the posts became.  Duh, right? Of course, a post from 6 months after 9/11 would be more painful than a post from last week. It was helpful, however, to experience that as a reader.  By the end I was in tears, feeling the emotions of my family and even people I had never met.  It was helpful to see what I wrote “to him” years ago. You can’t fake that stuff. But what would he say back to these posts???…….

Lastly, I attempted composing a small text-messaging conversation but got stuck with how to format…..the irony in this is that it took me 15 minutes to write a few lines—the opposite of how text messaging should “feel.”  I need to return to this mode of communication another time.

Last thoughts:  I am presently envisioning my final creative work as two separate pieces.  One as a chronological account of my life since 9/11 presented in order with the artifacts and fictional correspondence.  The second, I am now seeing as a more paired down version.  Perhaps not as loaded with images.  Beginning in the future, maybe.  I will create this communication thread with my father that progresses backward.  No real signals to 9/11. A focus on our relationship? An uncertainty as to whether he is alive or not. A slow progression of the realization with hints throughout. I am thinking that in this second version even the letters I have written to him and “from” him will be typed up as they might look in a novel (not actually handwritten and put into a jpeg.  This might provide an ease for the reader in following the story and character development. Just thoughts……

And how to publish online???…..still brewing…..

One thought on “

  1. I approve of the feature image on this post 😉

    And more importantly, I’m impressed with the way you are trying out in your mind, the possible narrative structure, and, as we discussed in our last call, online this possibly could be constructed in a way of making many different paths through the story, not just chronological vs reverse chronological.

    Here is one list of novels with multiple narrative paths

    I thought too of Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas which had a sort of forward and reverse narrative path that converged.

    As always, I am very moved by the work you are doing.


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