Nonlinear Storytelling (PT70)

Nonlinear Storytelling (PT70)

Alex and Nick discuss nonlinear narrative in television writing, from flashbacks to flashforwards.

What are effective uses of nonlinear storytelling? When should you work with flashbacks, flasforwards or parallel storylines? What are dos and donts of nonlinear narratives? Are there drawbacks of out-of-order storytelling?

Plus, we talk The Mick case and Amazon’s Lord of the Rings.

The Paper Team flashes around…



Paper Scraps: The Mick and Amazon’s LOTR (00:52)
1 – Brief history of nonlinear storytelling in TV and when to use it (04:52)
2 – Examples of effective TV nonlinear narratives (13:16)
3 – Dos-and-dont’s of nonlinear (31:39)
4 – Drawbacks of nonlinear (35:23)
Takeaways and Resources (40:43)


“Protecting and Over-Protecting Your TV Script: Copyright, Ownership and Idea Theft” (PT23)
Wikipedia’s list of nonlinear narrative television series
FlashForward (TV Show)
“Time’s Arrow” (4×11 – BoJack Horseman)
“Thanksgiving” (2×08 – Master of None)
“The Visitor” (4×03 – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
“Get Me a Lawyer” (1×01 – Damages)
River Song (Doctor Who)


“Slaughterhouse-Five” – Kurt Vonnegut
“Nonlinear Storytelling” – Game Design Concepts
“The 21st Century Screenplay” – Linda Aronson

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Special thanks to Alex Switzky for helping us edit this episode.

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TV Writing For You

Alex Freedman

I'm Alex Freedman, the writer behind TV Calling.

I started this site in 2008 to chronicle my own journey in television writing.

723 posts and 9 years later, TV Calling has also become a comprehensive resource dedicated to the full TV writing industry — from spec to success.

Everything here is written by yours truly (unless otherwise credited), so feel free to blame me for any missed deadlines.

I hope you'll answer your television calling, and join me in this creative journey.

Write on.

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