[Writing Prompt] Non-Linear Tales

We’ve looked at the parts of the story. We’ve looked at point of view. We’ve learned the rules. Now I’m inviting you to throw it all out of the window.

The Prompt

Write A Non-Linear Story


  • Today you’ll write a story that does not go from beginning to middle to end.
  • There is no need whatsoever to mollycoddle your reader and write a coherent series of events
  • Try jumping around in time (feel free to retell a story you’ve previously written, to help you get a headstart on this assignment)
  • Think about writing a stream-of-consciousness monologue, which contains narrative strands, only not necessarily in a traditional narrative way.
  • Tell the story backwards (think about Memento; Looper; , the story arc of River Song from Doctor Who)
  • Paint random scenes. Make no attempt to tell a traditional narrative story. Just tell it how your character sees things (think: The Time Traveller’s Wife). This is particularly effective for harrowing stories or if you really want to disorient your readers (There was a famous British modernist composer, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, whose works were unapologetically ‘difficult’. “I work hard to write them,” ‘Max’ was known to say. “Why shouldn’t my audience work hard too?”)


How did this go today? Did it feel like a relief to be freed from the need to end your story neatly? Did you find yourself slipping back into traditional narrative mode and if so did you fight it or go with it? Leave a comment or talk about it in the community.

3 thoughts on “[Writing Prompt] Non-Linear Tales”

  1. I am fascinated…one, by the fact that I’ve written 21 stories this month–a few of them are even pretty good!
    And two, by this non-linear story idea. How does that work? I can’t figure out where to even begin. Wait! Mmmm…I’m so trying this one tomorrow!!!!!

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