Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday is Out of Order

I recently finished reading Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. One of the most interesting things about the book is how it's written in a...how did I describe this...non-chronologically-linear manner. Krakauer jumps from describing Christopher McCandless in the "Magic Bus" in Alaska to his journey that brought him there to stories by those he met. (The movie, if you've seen it, does the same thing.)

I find this style incredibly cool. Instead of drawing a straight line from Start to So What, the story (yes, it was a story, not just nonfiction) branches out from the So What to draw all sorts of conclusions and epiphanies that end up being very exciting aha moments versus just another line of the story.

After reading this book, I've decided to give that a shot in my current story--which means writing in past tense (I'll have to alter my default tense). Also, I'm incorporating anonymous letters to reveal part of the backstory, and those will come in a somewhat random order. That way a lot of seemingly unimportant details mentioned earlier will produce the aha effect!

Off the top of my head I can think of two other works of fiction that use non-chronological-linearity. First one--Doctor Who. (Did you guess I was going to say that?) I won't expand on that too much because if you know anything about the show you also know it has to do with time travel, and, well, the non-chronological-linearity is a sort of duh. (Though let me stress the AHAness of the aha moments. Falling-out-of-chair AHAs.)

The second example: the movie 500 Days of Summer. It very clearly shows its out-of-orderness, by starting each "day" with a number (from 1-500, isn't that clever?). The way it flips between happy and sad, then and now, and Yay Summer is Awesome and I Hate Summer keeps the audience on their toes (and also keeps the movie from being all Yay Happiness in the first half and Aw Gloominess in the second, which would be the effect if it was chronologically linear).

Does anyone have any other examples of non-chronological-linearity?