Nonlinear Narratives and You

I’ve been talking about my bubble method of doing organization for a while now, but today I want to talk about something that’s useful for creative writers: nonlinearity.

Nonlinear stories can hold a lot of interest and have some practical advantages. It puts the storyteller entirely in control of pacing and the flow of information.

But it’s also difficult. The storyteller needs to be great at information control and keeping tones steady.

Bubbles and Scenes

One of the fundamental differences between most writing and creative writing is that creative writing has a much different purpose.

While both convey functional information, the goal in creative writing is to provide an artistic expression beyond the mere literal events.

If you’ve been following my bubble method (click here for an archive of posts), you’ll know that it’s a light and fractal organization method I use to help stay on task and hit every point I need to hit.

But keeping things straight only gets you half-way to solid organization in creative writing.

For that, you need to think between the bubbles.

Bubbles: Saving the Orphans

A couple weeks ago, I laid out my preferred method of organization. I use what I call a “bubble method” derived from a few different theories regarding text structure.

In case you missed it, here’s a link to it, and a brief overview:

  1. I use my system because it’s fast and simple.
  2. Although originally developed for nonfiction, it’s something that I’ve continued using as I move into more creative writing.
  3. It’s built around flexible fractal compartmentalization.

In short: you put each of your ideas into bubbles as a two-dimensional outline, with each bubble representing the content you need to make a point and the point itself. You put bubbles within other bubbles when they are sub-points of a larger point.

Writing With Bubbles

I use a simple method when writing that helps me quickly organize everything I am going to put in a piece without requiring a lot of time and effort.

Organization is critical to good writing because it keeps things in order and allows the logical separation of ideas, but when students get taught organization for writing (if they are even taught organization!) it often takes the form of rote formula.

I use a method I call the bubble method. It’s not sophisticated, but it’s scalable and helpful for very simple organization.