My Thoughts on Linear Vs. Non-linear Plot Structure

Insightful article.

Susan Finlay Writes

When I first began writing novels, an editor-friend told me my writing was too linear. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I had some ideas. Now, many years later, and after writing four novels, I have a much better grip on the differences.

As I understand it, all plots are linear, but the way they are structured can be linear or non-linear. In linear writing, the plot structure moves from point-A to point-B to point-C to point-D, and without flashbacks. The storyline tends to be more plot-driven than character-driven, meaning the main characters could be replaced by different characters without much, if any, changes to the story.

In non-linear writing, the plot structure can bounce around, maybe with flashbacks, dream sequences, and/or scene switches with point-of-view switches, as when a plot has multiple storyline progressions that jump back and forth. It may include foreshadowing, and will most likely…

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