Examples of Fragmented Narrative: Part I

This is when the story is all over the place. We just get bits of it from past and present and future and have to work out what happened and in what order for ourselves.

  • Joseph Heller uses this extensively in the novel Catch-22. There was never an official time line and any made by someone else would have taken lots of work and still wouldn’t have been accurate. Heller reportedly tried to make a time line after he had written the book “to make sure everything was in order” and found he had made a significant contradiction at one point, but decided to leave it in since fixing it would be a hassle, nobody would notice it unless they tried to create a time line for everything, and “it added a little something”.
  • Seen in The Time Traveler’s Wife. It would be hard to make the scenes strictly chronological anyway, since the two protagonists are living them in different orders. (And Henry lives a number of them twice.)
  • Stephen King’s novel IT jumps back-and-forth between two time periods (the 50s and the 80s), but follows each of these two periods chronologically. (That is, if we don’t count normal flashbacks which also appear within each of the two narrative threads.) Not so in the Film.
  • In the novel and film Slaughterhouse-Five, events from a man’s life are shown out of order, ranging from imprisonment in a German POW camp, through the fifties, and into being the guest of aliens towards the end of time. The main character has become Unstuck In Time, allowing him to live all the moments of his life at the same time.
  • Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen, and, indeed, the flashback episodes of Watchmen in general.
  • The Sin City stories were published in Anachronic Order. A timeline of the main stories (and a few others that can be pinned down relative to them): That Yellow Bastard (with “Just Another Saturday Night” concurrent), A Dame To Kill For (with “Blue Eyes” and The Hard Goodbye concurrent), “Wrong Turn,” “Wrong Track,” Hell and BackThe Big Fat KillFamily Values.
  • This was accidentally done the first time around for DiC’s dub of Sailor Moon. The order was a followed: a full “Queen Beryl” arc, followed by the “Rini/Negamoon” arc up-to the point where the last two of the four Negamoon sisters are healed, then the full “Doom Tree” arc. In repeats, the orders in correct order: full “Queen Beryl” arc, full “Doom Tree” arc, then at that time the unfinished “Rini/Negamoon” arc.






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