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  1. BillyxRansom

    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Non-linear = inconsistent?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by BillyxRansom, Jul 7, 2011.

    Do you buy into this? I read a book and a lot of people who reviewed it said that the plot was inconsistent, and that fans of the novel were apologists claiming it was a non-linear story, i.e. employing a certain method for writing it, and that there was a very specific purpose, and that, to said critics, this was a cop-out.

    I'm looking to see what are some of you good people's thoughts?
     
  2. Ellipse

    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    What book was it? It is kind of difficult to make a judgment without knowing the book or the author.
     
  3. Mallory

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    There's nothing wrong with having a plot that moves in a nonlinear direction, but you don't want to have lots of inconsistencies and contradictions. But like Ellipse said, I can't really say more without knowing more.
     
  4. BillyxRansom

    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Dhalgren, by Samuel R. Delany.
     
  5. Mallory

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Oh, I thought this was a book you were writing. Well, what did you think of it when you read it? Was it good? Analyze it; pick apart what parts you think worked and what didn't. Everyone will have different opinions, so just because someone has an opinion on a book doesn't mean their way is right or wrong. Be your own judge.

    What kind of inconsistencies?
     
  6. superman

    superman Member

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    I think its fine as long as it doesn't become convoluted

    Kind Regards
     
  7. RaitR_Grl

    RaitR_Grl Member

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    I agree. I've read a few nonlinear books and the structure definitely maintains the suspense factor.
     
  8. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    Non-linear doesn't necessarily mean inconsistent, but it can tend that way sometimes. Flashbacks, dream sequences, plotlines in different eras and such can muddy up the storyline if you're not careful.

    However, I haven't read the book, so I can't say for certain which way it tends to.
     
  9. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    You can have a non-linear story, but the timeline needs to be consistent if you wrote out the events in the correct chronological order. It might be that it was just overly complicated to follow, or that the writer didn't do the required planning to ensure it all married up.
     
  10. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Dark, is it not? Contributor

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    IDK, never read anything that was non-linear.
    Unless reading satellite stories that are apart
    of the same universe counts?
     
  11. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Non-linear storytelling is well established and used often - so to say that all non-linear storytelling is bad is utter garbage.

    That said, non-linear storytelling is very, very easy to mess up. It takes a lot to hold a story together if you have multiple timelines or bounce around that plot. So, you can definitely have a BAD non-linear story where critics rightly say it doesn't hold together, and then the author comes back with "but it's non-linear!" - which some people will then respond to by saying "it's bad, so therefore non-linear is bad."

    Without knowing which book you're talking about, my guess is that it's a badly-executed non-linear timeline. But that doesn't mean there aren't good ones.
     
  12. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    If they're happening side by side in the same book, maybe.
     
  13. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Dark, is it not? Contributor

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    @malaupp no I think they take place before the series started.
    They came out after the series was over. So I suppose it would
    be non-linear. Though there is only one with about a character
    that is in the series, who is the villian. The other two are just
    kinda about other places and people that were affected before
    the series started. 3 books of backstory and only one with any
    close ties to the series (56 books), there are similar creatures form
    the other two in the series, but not directly in it.
     
  14. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    Non-linear storyline is more when those separate stories take place within the confines of the same book. Dovetail series where storylines have their own series with each plot arc in their own books are a bit different.

    For example, I once wrote a YA story (that will never see the light of day) in which the MC had visions of her ancestors and his compatriots as they went on their adventures. The reader followed both the MC in the modern day and her ancestor in ancient times, both in the same book.
     
  15. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Dark, is it not? Contributor

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    Does 6 MCs (1 per book in turnbase) count?
    I suppose not as the whole story is in linear fashion.

    But I see what you mean. :)
     
  16. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah stuff like that can work well.

    Mine has one time line working forward to the solution to the problem and another working backward to the root of it.
     
  17. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    Yeah. When I first heard the term, I was wondering how they could write a story out of order. xD

    Have you ever heard of the small musical The Last Five Years? It's a two person cast, with the male lead moving through the story forward, and the woman backward. The idea reminds me of that.
     
    Cave Troll likes this.

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