Screenwriting : Non linear narrative synopsis? by Michael Ghimire

Michael Ghimire

Non linear narrative synopsis?

I am kind of confused here on how should a non linear narrative's synopsis be built. Should it be the same way the screenplay is built? or should it be linear to make them understand? I find it hard since synopsis happens to be very tiny and I am afraid if making it non linear too will make it confusing. Suggestions are welcome.

Lobotomous Monk

non linear narratives should have a 'spine' by which all peripheral events thread themselves into that central nervous system trunk... anything else can work in fictional prose, but I sense it will be too abstract for cinema... unless you are going for a collage aesthetic. the synopsis should follow the overarching structure of the narrative. Reservoir Dogs synopsis would start with the first events of the story and not the plot... it is a bank robbery that has gone wrong... the robbers are reconvening at a warehouse. they have revelations as they contemplate how they ended up in the situation. the synopsis can then cover those previous events as you convey what scenes and events will constitute the dramatic effect for the story. i think that once you establish in the synopsis what the spine is, the threads can be grouped, otherwise you run the risk of going back and forth between central and periphery - it could be confusing. just aim to bring the reader up to speed as expeditiously as possible.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Michael, "The Imitation Game" has a non-linear script. The main narrative is the struggle of British WW2 code breakers trying to defeat Hitler and crack the German code (Enigma) - - - but the movie begins in the 1950s with a robbery at Alan Turing's apartment, then a police investigation -- -- interrupted by frequent flashbacks to Alan as an isolated, friendless boy at Cambridge. See the film -- then write a synopsis for that movie. It's a good exercise. It's not your own script -- and you can get practice.

Michael Ghimire

Yes Joey

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

Hello Michael, Unless I’m mistaken, the synopsis is by definition the summary of the story in the order in which it is watched. This doesn’t prevent you to make also a summary in a different order. But obviously, there is a narrative reason why you adopted a non linear structure. The more compelling the better. "Non linear" can be a lot of different things (successive, parrallel, superimposed, out of sync, converging, diverging, circular, time travelling, flashbacks, deconstructed, mise en abyme, mixed worlds, etc.) and some are easier to pitch than others. While non linear, your story may be linear for somebody (Inception, Twelve Monkeys, Groundhog Day, Pan's Labyrinth ...) so you can write a linear summary, or not (Mulholland Drive ...) . As something non consistant with the standard model, you also need to think about the genre and the target, and to whom you want to pitch it. So it’s difficult to give you some view without information about your story. E.g. It would be easier for me to pitch something like Groundhog Day than like Inception or Mulholland Drive. All the best.

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

Happy New Year!

Michael Ghimire

happy new year jean and everyone

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