Dreamer Documents

Writing Styles: Linear and Non-Linear

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Hello there! Welcome to post number two in a three part look at various writing styles, and the way they interact with one another. I had a lot of fun writing about Lewisy and Tolkienish editing last week. The concepts of Linear and Non-Linear writing are ones that are much more familiar, which means I shall have far less to write about them. I do hope, however, that this short post is still interesting and that perhaps I may even offer a new thought or two on the subject. ^-^

So then, let’s a take a quick look at the way we writers move through a story as we work; defined by two basic categories.



The definition here is, literally, quite straightforward. ^-^ A Linear writer is one who works through their story from beginning to end, chronologically. Each scene is written in sequence, with no hopping around. In fact, most Linear writers are uncomfortable with skipping forward even a few paragraphs when they get stuck. For them, everything is informed by what has already been written, so everything has to be in order.

Linear writers also:
– Do less rewriting as the plot unfolds
– Don’t have to keep track of plot changes quite as much
– Are a little more likely to also be a Freewriter



Not quite the opposite of the Linear writer, someone with more of a Non-Linear style writes scenes as they please, jumping forwards or backwards freely. Perhaps they are struck with amazing clarity for a scene halfway through the story and start there, or maybe they just get stuck and decide to work on a different scene. They generally have a strong idea of where they want to go and don’t mind getting a little timey-wimey on their way there.

Non-Linear writers also:
– Develop good tools for keeping track of plots and characters
– Sometimes must redo previously written scenes because things have changed on the way there.
– Are equally likely to be a Planner or a Freewriter.


Personally, I am a Linear writer. I have flirted a little with Non-Linear, because I had such a strong idea for a particular scene that I just had to write it down immediately, but found that rewriting those scenes was more difficult for me. Besides, I much prefer to ride along with the timeline and see how my story and characters unfold as I go. ^-^

How about you? Do you write in a Linear or Non-Linear fashion? Ever tried writing in the opposite style? Also, isn’t the word Linear fun to say? ^-^ I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

And, stay tuned for the third and final post in this little series – Writing Styles: Freewriter and Planner

(Actually, I’m thinking of possibly re-titling this series as Writing Habits. Seems a bit more accurate. Any thoughts?)


Author: Jennifer L. Post

For most of my life I've been imagining and playing, making up stories and writing them down. It's my dream to become a published author. Right now I'm working hard to make that happen. ^-^

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