Start writing a post


Why it is so critical to determine the style in which a story is crafted.


No matter the medium, there are and always have been two methods of telling a story: linear and non-linear.

Surprisingly enough, many individuals are unable to distinguish between the two, repeatedly confusing one for the other. In my own experience, I have met many people suffering from this problem and it irks me to no end when I listen to them complain about literature or films as being "bad" when their entire argument is built upon a non-existent knowledge of discernment.

To begin, what is the difference between linear and non-linear storytelling?

Linear is as simple as it gets: A to B, B to C, C to D, D to E, and so on. The story progresses from a concrete beginning, builds to a climax with various chapters (scenes) that add to the story, and eventually ends in a solid conclusion, a So What? that ties the entire story together. Examples of this range from your average fairytale to Huckleburry Finn to Great Expectations to Iron Man and so on. Although I did say this is the "simpler" form of storytelling, this does not mean, in any way, that "simpler" equates with sub-par. There are plenty of stories written in this manner that are beautiful and excellently crafted and there are plenty of stories written linearly that are complex, incorporating intricate symbolism and characters into a fabulously written plot.

So what did I mean when I said linear storytelling is as simple as it gets? Because when you compare it to non-linear, it is extremely easy to picture the complexities.

Non-Linear is the more abstract method of storytelling. Instead of following the A to B method, non-linear stories possess a greater freedom of time travel: they can begin where they want and they can end where they want. Non-Linear stories are famous for incorporating numerous flashbacks, flashbacks within flashbacks, memory sequences, and many others.

A great example of this is The Abominable Bride, BBC's way of introducing their latest season of Sherlock, one of their greatest and most popular, contemporary shows.

The story begins with a seemingly simple premise: Sherlock and Dr. Watson explore one of Sherlock's most intriguing cases, the mystery of the abominable bride, set in the 1800's. Without delving into the film's plot, I will say that to those who do not understand the differences between linear and non-linear storytelling, this film, as one of my friends described it, will be a "mental rollercoaster." The film jumps between past and present, there are dreams within dreams, flashbacks within flashbacks, and the past even makes an appearance in the future! Yet despite these complicated devices, the seasoned observer will appreciate the film for its rich beauty and intricacies. As a film critic myself, I highly recommend the film; it will mess with your mind on the first run, but if you are persistent, I have confidence that you will eventually understand it.

The takeaway from this is that to truly understand and appreciate a film or novel or play, one of your first responsibilities as a viewer or reader is to determine the style in which the story is crafted. I can guarantee that if you do not do this, you will be unable to appreciate the vast treasures hidden throughout the story.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Planning Another Christmas Party

Don't just plan another plain party but get creative to have everyone wanting to come back next year!

Getty Famous

You know it's Christmas when the radio stations change to all of your favorite holiday tunes, the air is still, and stores have the best sales. With all my favorite things from Christmas happening my least favorite probably has to be when I have to go to another same old boring Christmas party that I get invited to every year. Here are some Christmas party ideas so that you won't have another sad Christmas party.

Keep Reading... Show less

High School Soccer is Wildly Important

For Young Players Who Want to Succeed at The Next Level

High School Soccer is Wildly Important

Whose choice is it? The parent? The player? There are a number of reasons that a kid may sit out of high school soccer, and to be completely honest; It is a huge mistake. High school soccer is the final piece in the puzzle that takes a player from above average or elite, to college ready by the end of their senior year. Every year thousands of talented athletes don't play for their high schools. Why though?

Keep Reading... Show less

8 Things That Should Be On Everyone's Holiday To-Do List

December is around the corner, are you ready?

8 Things That Should Be On Everyone's Holiday To-Do List

As they tend to say, its the most wonderful time of the year! People have begun to compile their Christmas to-do lists in anticipation for the season of sugarplums and gingerbread.

The history of the Christmas to-do lists goes back hundreds of years, almost as old as the holiday itself, however, people tend to fall out of this habit as they get older. This is unfortunate, as the theme of Christmas tradition can add bundles of the spirit of joy to your families.

Keep Reading... Show less

Fall Weather Must-Haves

Put away the swim suits and your favorite high-waisted shorts!


The transitional months of fall can cause some fashion headaches as you try to figure out what clothing to keep in your closet. With limited amount of college living space and the ever-unpredictable Nebraska weather, sometimes it’s difficult to know what should be taking up that precious closet space as you transition into winter. As you pack away those tanks and shorts for the chilly months ahead, get your closet ready with a few Fall must-haves. 

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Take a look at the articles driving big conversations on Odyssey.


At Odyssey, we're on a mission to encourage constructive discourse on the Internet. That's why we created the response button you can find at the bottom of every article.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments