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Non-Linear Storytelling

Non-Linear Model of Storytelling

Adam Brackin

on 21 October 2015

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Transcript of Non-Linear Storytelling

Non-sequential narrative
Disjointed narrative
Disrupted narrative

Multi-linear narrative
Branching narrative
Ergodic narrative
"in medias res"

"into the middle of things"
Narrative which can not be experienced in a linear format.
Most often involves LAYERS of story within story. Varients
include transmeda approaches, external, and internal references.
Events are portrayed out of chronological order or otherwise manipulated.

It is often used to mimic the structure and recall of human memory but has been applied for other reasons as well.
In his review of the film, Roger Ebert noted how the film's structure was very similar to that of a video game. Ebert mentions the kinetic style of the film and comments:

"[The] heroine is like the avatar in a video game -- Lara Croft made flesh."

The narrative itself evokes the typical video game. Just like a character in a video game, Lola dies once and sees Manni die once before figuring out how to "beat the level."

The opening of the film sets the film up as a game, albeit a football game, however the point remains. Just like somebody who must replay a level in a video game and learn from their mistakes, Lola is given several more chances to successfully complete her mission.
Run Lola Run
Form in which the story is told in a different SEQUENCE than that in which the story would have originally occurred (usually) without a major change in viewpoint or perspective. This is usually for dramatic emphasis or to build suspense or reveal information which was witheld previously for these reasons.
(Refers to the initial insertion of the audience into the story.)
La Nouvelle Vague
"The New Wave"
Form in which the story elements are proven unreliable, untrue or otherwise layered or repeated with important changes. Does not require out-of-sequence elements (though it can have them). In its simplest form, an ironic "twist," "bluff," "reversal," or "reveal" ending - though can be much more complicated. PERSPECTIVE is the key to this form. (Often clarified with repeated viewings or re-reading.)
Form in which multiple storylines or aspects of the same story INTERTWINE or run parallel to one another for the purpose of complimentary or expository narrative threads.
Form in which elements ("chunks") of narrative are omitted, garbled, or misrepresented for the sake of mystery, convenience, aesthetics, or other reasons.
The "RPG solution"
A GAME in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development. Actions taken within the game succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.
There is a fundamental difference between non-sequential storytelling and a "multi-linear" story in which choices exist and the outcome can change such as a "time travel" scenario, because...
"time travel"
(character perspective)
"non-sequential" telling
(audience perspective)
*This is often the multiverse "time travel" scenario
*This is often the "causality" time travel scenario.
Always remember that from the perspective of the one living it... ALL stories are linear.
"STORY" is fundamentally a LINEAR concept.
Stories are NOT always told from a stictly single linear perspective.
In fact the audience must often piece the story back together.
Disruptions "short circuit" the story causing jumps in the narrative from the perpective of the character(s) audience, or both.
Many stories "cycle" through chapters or stanzas of high and low action or suspense or even "reset" to a starting point in which events can play out differently. These can be illustrated as looped linear stories.
I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Evening news is where they begin with 'Good Evening,' and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
Each node is disrupted by missing information or a "reset" of the narrative to another time or place.
In films and novels this is often disorienting.
In short story and episodic TV it is conventional and expected.
Missing an episode...

...is unimportant.
DISJOINTED stories often blend with the DISRUPTED story model when multiple perspectives of the same event INTERTWINE simultaneously.
Story is a linear concept.
"Choice" is non-linear.
Choice may or may not have lasting consequences.
...but the player path is still LINEAR.
The choices can get very complicated.
The entry point can be changed.
Even a minor change like the starting point will have profound effects on the storytelling.
Told from three perspectives, a story of a bunch of young Californians trying to get some cash, do and deal some drugs, score money and sex in Las Vegas, and generally experience the rush of life. Written by Vladimir Zelevinsky <vz@alum.mit.edu>

'Go' is set mostly during one long Christmas Eve in the lives of a group of young adults on the events surrounding a drug deal in Los Angeles replayed three different times from three different views. In a straightforward manner; when slacker Simon Baines takes off for a getaway to Las Vegas with his friends, Ronna takes his shift at the 24-hour grocery store where they work. When two guys, named Adam and Zack, walk in asking to score some dope from Simon, Ronna takes it upon herself and her friends Claire and Mannie to buy some some stuff from the local drug dealer Todd Gains. But the drug deal is a sting that Adam and Zack are forced to set up by an overzealous narcotics agent, Burke. Ronna is forced to dispose of the drugs. With no other alternative, she tries to double-cross Todd with phony drugs. Meanwhile in Las Vegas, Simon's adventures with his best friend Marcus hit an unfortunate turn during a trip to a strip club, while Adam and Zack end up spending Christmas Eve with Burke and his wife Irene, and afterward while driving to a rave that Ronna is dealing, the guys accidentally hit Ronna with their car and leave her for dead. Nearby, Mannie nearly OD's on dope, and Claire gets more friendly with a vengeful Todd whom is now looking for Ronna. Written by Matthew Patay
Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega are two hitmen who are out to retrieve a suitcase stolen from their employer, mob boss Marsellus Wallace. Wallace has also asked Vincent to take his wife Mia out a few days later when Wallace himself will be out of town. Butch Coolidge is an aging boxer who is paid by Wallace to lose his next fight. The lives of these seemingly unrelated people are woven together comprising of a series of funny, bizarre and uncalled-for incidents. Written by Soumitra
Several stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles involving a collection of inter-related characters, a police detective with a drugged out mother and a thieving younger brother, two car thieves who are constantly theorizing on society and race, the white district attorney and his irritated and pampered wife, a racist white veteran cop (caring for a sick father at home) who disgusts his more idealistic younger partner, a successful Hollywood director and his wife who must deal with the racist cop, a Persian-immigrant father who buys a gun to protect his shop, a Hispanic locksmith and his young daughter who is afraid of bullets, and more. Written by Martin Lewison <dr@martinlewison.com>
Tells the seemingly random yet vitally connected story of a set of incidents that all converge one evening at 11:14pm. The story follows the chain of events of five different characters and five different storylines that all converge to tell the story of murder and deceit.
"House of Leaves"
Cent Mille Milliards
these texts (hypertexts, adventure games, movies etc.) aren't essentially different from other literary texts, because

(1) all literature is to some extent indeterminate, nonlinear, and different for every reading,
(2) the reader has to make choices in order to make sense of any text,
(3) a text cannot really be nonlinear because the reader can read it only one sequence at a time, anyway.
Raymond Queneau’s "Hundred Thousand Billion Poems" (or One Hundred Million Million poems = original French title: Cent mille milliards de poèmes), published in 1961, is a set of ten sonnets. They are printed on card with each line on a separated strip, like a kid's heads-bodies-and-legs flip book. As all ten sonnets have not only the same rhyme scheme but the same rhyme sounds, any lines from a sonnet can be combined with any from the nine others, so that there are 10 to the 14th power (= 100,000,000,000,000) different poems. It would take some 200,000,000 years to read them all, even reading twenty-four hours a day.
I Ching
The I Ching or "Yì Jīng" (pinyin), also known as the Book of Changes, Classic of Changes, and Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts. The book contains a divination system comparable to Western geomancy or the West African Ifá system; in Western cultures and modern East Asia, it is still widely used for this purpose. During the Warring States period, the text was re-interpreted as a system of cosmology and philosophy that subsequently became intrinsic to Chinese culture. It centred on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change.
...derived from the Greek words ergon, meaning "work", and hodos, meaning "path".
The most commonly cited definition of ergodic literature is from pages 1–2 of Aarseth's book "Cybertext—Perspectives on Ergodic Literature":

"In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must also be nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages."
Cybertext is a subcategory of ergodic literature that Aarseth defines as "texts that involve calculation in their production of scriptons"
The process of reading printed matter, in contrast, involves "trivial" extranoematic effort, that is, merely moving one's eyes along lines of text and turning pages.
is a major figure in the emerging fields of video game studies and electronic literature.

He is one of the most prominent figures among the "ludologists," (in opposition to the "narrativists") a group of thinkers characterized by their insistence on treating video games not as a form of narrative or as a text, but instead simply as games, with the dynamics of play and interaction being the most important and fundamental part of the games.

He talks about how writing is more than just signs and symbols. Writing can be broken down into two units which are called TEXTONS (script as presented) and SCRIPTONS (script as stored)
Espen J. Aarseth
The voter said the politician is a fool.
Interactive fiction (IF), describes software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives and as video games.
In common usage, the term refers to text adventures, a type of adventure game where the entire interface is "text-only".
It can also be used to distinguish the more modern style of such works, focusing on narrative and not necessarily falling into the adventure game genre at all, from the more traditional focus on puzzles. More expansive definitions of interactive fiction may refer to all adventure games, including wholly graphical adventures such as Myst.
...a type of fiction that self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction, exposing the fictional illusion. It is the literary term describing fictional writing that self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in posing questions about the relationship between fiction and reality, usually using irony and self-reflection. It can be compared to presentational theatre, which does not let the audience forget it is viewing a play; metafiction does not let the reader forget he or she is reading a fictional work.
Hypertext is text displayed on a computer or other electronic device with references (hyperlinks) to other text and is the underlying concept defining the structure of the "World Wide Web," making it an easy-to-use and flexible format to share information over the Internet.
but in literature "hypertext" is... METAFICTION
A novel about a writer creating a story (e.g. Misery, Secret Window, Secret Garden, At Swim-Two-Birds, Atonement, The Counterfeiters, The World According to Garp, Barton Fink, Adaptation., Alone on a Wide Wide Sea and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man).
A novel about a reader reading a novel (e.g. The Neverending Story, If On A Winter's Night A Traveler, The Historian, The Princess Bride)
A novel which features itself as its own prop or McGuffin (e.g. The Adventures of the Imagination of Periphery Stowe, The Dark Tower, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Jamais Vu Papers)
A novel or other work of fiction within the novel (e.g. The Laughing Man, The Dark Tower, The Crying of Lot 49, Sophie's World, A Clockwork Orange, Pale Fire, The Princess Bride, The Island of the Day Before, Steppenwolf, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Man in the High Castle).
A story addressing the specific conventions of story, such as title, character conventions, paragraphing or plots. (e.g. Lost in the Funhouse and On with the Story by John Barth, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle or Into the Woods.)
A novel where the narrator intentionally exposes him or herself as the author of the story (e.g. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Mister B. Gone, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, BFG, The Museum of Innocence, The French Lieutenant's Woman).
A novel in which the book itself seeks interaction with the reader (e.g., Willie Masters' Lonely Wife by William H. Gass or House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski).
Narrative footnotes, which continue the story while commenting on it (e.g. Pale Fire, House of Leaves, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, From Hell by Alan Moore, Cable & Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, An Early History of Ambergris by Jeff VanderMeer, many books by Robert Rankin and the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett).
A novel in which the characters are aware that they are in a novel (Henry Potty series and various works by Robert Rankin)
In this paean to the pleasures of language, Gass equates his text with the body of Babs Masters, the lonesome wife of the title, to advance the conceit that a parallel should exist between a woman and her lover and a book and its reader.

Disappointed by her inattentive husband/reader, Babs engages in an exuberant display of the physical charms of language to entice an illicit new lover: a man named Gelvin in one sense, but more importantly, the reader of this "essay-novella" which, in the years since its first appearance in 1968 as a supplement to TriQuarterly, has attained the status of a postmodernist classic.

Like Laurence Sterne and Lewis Carroll before him, Gass uses a variety of visual devices: photographs, comic-strip balloons, different typefaces, parallel story lines (sometimes three or four to the page), even coffee stains. As Larry McCaffery has pointed out, "the lonesome lady of the book's title, who is gradually revealed to be lady language herself, creates an elaborate series of devices which she hopes will draw attention to her slighted charms [and] force the reader to confront what she literally is: a physically exciting literary text."
Structure: framework of a work of literature; the organization or over-all design of a work. The structure of a play may fall into logical divisions and also a mechanical division of acts and scenes. Groups of stories may be set in a larger structure or frame, like The Canterbury Tales, The Decameron, or The Arabian Tales.
"Cohesive Models"
"Non-cohesive Models"
Games are defined by INTERACTIVE CHOICE!
(Not necessarily linear, it can follow any of the other "story models" as well.)
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