Links to Lindas Articles

How parallel narrative (flashback, flash forward, non-linear narratives, multiple plots and ensemble cast structures) multiplies your story choices

Very often things like flashbacks, flash forwards, non-linear narratives, multiple plots and ensemble casts are regarded as optional gimmicks stuck into the conventional three act structure. They're not. Each of the six types I've isolated and their subcategories provides a different take on the same story material. Suddenly, one idea for a film can give you a multitude of story choices. What do I mean?

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The six sorts of parallel narrative

There are six sorts of parallel narrative at the moment, plus hybrids, and we can expect more hybridization. The six drop into two main categories: films that use time jumps and films that don't. This page gives you a brief overview of each form (with the focus on structure).  Scroll down to find the sort you need. To find the sort of story material that suits each type of parallel narrative...

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Which parallel narrative structure suits my script?

The first question writers always ask about parallel narrative is whether it suits their material and if so, which sort of parallel narrative they should chose - flashback, ensemble cast, non-linearity - what?. The answers here depend on the story you want to tell, and perhaps after all you don't need flashback or ensemble casts, or non-linearity or the like - perhaps conventional structure is the best way to go...

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Should I use conventional narrative instead?

Parallel narrative is so exciting that writers often seize upon it for the sheer joy of playing with multiple stories. However, wrongly used, parallel narrative can be actively destructive. A case in point is the film Pay It Forward, which has a very interesting story in the past but utilizes a double narrative flashback structure that burdens the film with a redundant story in the present...

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Characters in search of a plot and redundant heroes in ensemble cast films

If you are writing a film that has a large cast all with important parts but without the story jumping back and forth between time frames, you’ll find people referring to it as an ‘ensemble cast film’. Huge damage has been done internationally to ensemble cast scripts by the fact that they are not recognized as being different from the conventional one hero/one journey model...

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