Narrative refers to telling a story. So non-narrative writing would be something that doesn’t involve a story – it could be something like a voter’s list, an invoice, a non-fictional account of some event. Non-narritive writing is never done in the first person – it’s always very formal and usually very impersonal. In fact, most of it doesn’t involve people as such, but rather deals with statistical information.

Non-narrative storytelling, sometimes used in literature, film, hypertext websites and other narratives, where events are portrayed, for example out of chronological order, or in other ways, is where the narrative does not follow the direct causality pattern of the events featured, such as parallel distinctive plot lines, dream immersions or narrating another story inside the main plot-line. It is often used to mimic the structure and recall of human memory, but has been applied for other reasons as well.

Defining nonlinear structure in film is, at times, difficult. Films may use extensive flashbacks or flashforwards within a linear storyline, while nonlinear films often contain linear sequences. Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941) — influenced structurally by The Power and the Glory (1933) — and Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950) use a non-chronological flashback narrative that is often labeled nonlinear.

Some types of non-narrative writing If/Then moment stories and poems. When writing screenplays, I find it the most difficult trying to write non-narrative type of style. I find it much easier to write in a narrative, because then I get to unravel the story in way that’s not that hard to follow.


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