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Nonlinear Timelines : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Nonlinear Timelines

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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DrG2
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Nonlinear Timelines

Postby DrG2 » Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:47 pm

I'm just hunting for opinions to get a sense of how far is too far.

You can increase suspense by making the timeline of your novel nonlinear, either by jumping back in forth in time or by jumping to another character without giving the sense of when the action is regarding to previous chapter.

"Gone Girl" does this to good effect, although it's pretty obviously a writer's trick (at least to me) by alternating two POV characters although the scenes quickly become out of sync, temporally.

I've recently finished a book that frequently inserted chapters of backstory within the main timeline, even though the backstory scenes were not tied to "cues" in the main timeline (a cue might be the character being called stupid in the main timeline, then flashing back to when he got in a fight for being called stupid as a child). So in a sense, there was no link between main timeline and backstory timeline. I drew the line when there was 38 pages of unrelated scenes inserted immediately after the main character is interred in a barrel of horse piss and thrown over a falls.

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onceuponwednesday
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Re: Nonlinear Timelines

Postby onceuponwednesday » Wed Mar 18, 2015 11:42 pm

Any delay in gratification can create tension, but there's a point where the reader will put the book down and say, "enough."

I guess you have to judge that for yourself, and make the inserted scenes interesting enough so that the reader won't stop reading or skip it to get back to the cliffhanger.
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updog
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Re: Nonlinear Timelines

Postby updog » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:37 am

"Is it weird in here, or is it just me?" ~ Steven Wright



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mammamaia
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Re: Nonlinear Timelines

Postby mammamaia » Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:19 am

i have only one two-part question:

why would anyone collect a barrel of horse piss and how on earth would they have gone about collecting it??? :roll:
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TerryRodgers
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Re: Nonlinear Timelines

Postby TerryRodgers » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:14 pm


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updog
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Re: Nonlinear Timelines

Postby updog » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:14 pm

"Is it weird in here, or is it just me?" ~ Steven Wright



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pls
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Re: Nonlinear Timelines

Postby pls » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:30 pm

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Re: Nonlinear Timelines

Postby TerryRodgers » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:09 pm

Do the horses have a say? :o

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DrG2
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Re: Nonlinear Timelines

Postby DrG2 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:57 pm

this has certainly devolved. I don't know if you've ever watched a horse pee, but it seems like quite a lot comes out.

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mammamaia
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Re: Nonlinear Timelines

Postby mammamaia » Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:45 am

have to confess i'd forgotten about ERT's reliance on horse pee... i just pity the poor mares who aren't allowed pissing-privacy... and are kept in abominable living conditions [see site linked below, for the awful truth]... :x

http://www.lcanimal.org/index.php/campa ... ues/horses
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