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Type Talk: Non-Linear Narratives

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

In honour of VPL’s ongoing Reading Challenge and this year’s Summer Reading Club, I bring you Type Talk, a series of blog posts about non-traditional or uncommon storytelling formats, genres or structures, which both challenge our idea of what storytelling is, and will perhaps inspire us to try a new kind of media we might not have before.

Today we’ll feature non-linear narratives, where events are told out of order, depict multiple timelines, or are heavily interspersed with flashbacks or flashforwards, to a point where it is the main vehicle for story delivery, such as in the Indian epic, The Mahābhārata.

(Note: VPL doesn’t have the complete version in English, but you can read a portion of this incredible poem, translated, in The Bhagavadgītā in the Mahābhārata.)

A non-linear narrative may also be story containing stories within itself, and so there are multiple timelines being depicted, such as in the Arabian Nights, ‘Forrest Gump‘, and ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘. Another term for this is ‘frame narratives’.

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