50 Sure-Fire

Storytelling Tricks!


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Trick 7


Out of Sequence Experiences (Changing Temporal Relationships)


With this technique, the audience is unaware they are being presented things out of order. Such a story is the motion picture, Betrayal, with Ben Kingsley. The story opens and plays through the first act. We come to determine whom we side with and whom we don’t: who is naughty and who is nice. Then, the second act begins. It doesn’t take long for us to realize that this action actually happened before the act we have just seen. Suddenly, all the assumed relationships and motivations of the characters must be re-evaluated, and many of our opinions have to be changed. This happens again with the next act, so that only at the end of the movie are we able to be sure of our opinions about the first act we saw, which was the last act in the story.


A more recent example is Pulp Fiction in which we are at first unaware that things are playing out of order. Only later in the film do we catch on to this, and are then forced to alter our opinions.


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