Sign-posts/Non-linear story

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Mwoll
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Sign-posts/Non-linear story

Postby Mwoll » Nov 19, 2009 8:56 am

If a story is told out of order (like Pulp Fiction), are the signposts also jumbled, or do they occur in the same order as the storyform?

Thanks!

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Chris Huntley
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Re: Sign-posts/Non-linear story

Postby Chris Huntley » Nov 23, 2009 11:41 am

This is the difference between PLOT and STORYWEAVING. Plot is the order in which the events truly happen. Storyweaving is the order in which the events appear in the finished work.

Some stories use storyweaving to mix up the plot to great effect, e.g. Pulp Fiction, Memento, Roshomon, Betrayal, and more. The entire "Mystery" genre exists because key plot information is withheld from the audience and only revealed at the end.

For example, in a made up story's plot, Fred kills Marsha at the beginning of the story as part of the Overall Story throughline. In storyweaving the mystery, nobody (INCLUDING the audience) knows who killed Marsha until the end of the story when Fred is revealed as the killer.

The Overall Story throughline gives the audience an objective, "god-like" view of the events going on in that throughline. Manipulating the relating of information to the audience in order to reveal it at a later (or earlier) time than in the plot is in the realm of Storyweaving. Therefore, even though the characters other than Fred may not know who killed Marsha, the audience should know unless it is expressly withheld from them by the author in the storyweaving.
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Mwoll
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Re: Sign-posts/Non-linear story

Postby Mwoll » Nov 23, 2009 4:54 pm

Hmmm. I think I see what you're getting at, but let me ask it a different way.

Let's say that the storyform of Story X indicates that the order one should proceed through a certain throughline is "The Past -- How things are Changing -- The Present -- The Future" (My apologies if that's not actually permissible. It's just an example anyway.)

Now, if Story X is told completely chronologically, you'd see them in that order: Past, Progress, Present, Future.
However, if you wanted to mix up the chronology, like Pulp Fiction, I'm guessing you'd still want to go through the journey the same way: Past, Progress, Present, Future.

In other words, mixing up the plot when you storyweave, doesn't mean that you also mess up the order of the journey as it's presented.

Is that right?

I only ask because I'm about to rewrite a movie that is currently linear, and am going to add a bunch of non-linear beats.

Thanks!

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Re: Sign-posts/Non-linear story

Postby Chris Huntley » Nov 24, 2009 9:58 am

No. Signposts and Journeys are BOTH part of the plot, and therefore part of the internal order in the story. How you may choose to mix them up in the storyweaving is up to you, but I do not suggest treating them as though they follow different rules.

Personally, I see Signposts and Journeys as two different ways to look at the same progression. Writers tend to gravitate toward one or the other, and pay lip service to the alternate.

For example, if you tend to focus on Signposts, then the Journeys look like transitions. If you tend to look at Journeys, then the Signposts seem to look like lines of demarcation. Neither is wrong or better than the other, though Dramatica emphasizes the Signposts over the Journeys by design.
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Mwoll
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Re: Sign-posts/Non-linear story

Postby Mwoll » Nov 24, 2009 10:06 am

Thanks for the clarification!


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