What is the difference between Storyforming and Storyweaving?

I have a story in which the characters are concerned with the past. While I want the story to start with the Main Character many centuries after the past events, much of the history of the Overall Story situation lies in the past.

So, do I encode that history onto the storyform, or do I only encode events surrounding Main Character's activities? I originally envisioned her story being parallel to the story of one of the other characters, but now I'm thinking they're both part of the same story.

Or as someone once said, "Where do I start?"

I think the distinction you're looking for is that of Storyforming and Storyweaving. If the order of events is tied to the order in which things REALLY HAPPEN in the story, that's part of the storyform. If the order of events is tied to the order in which the audience experiences the events, that's storyweaving.

The biggest clue is to determine if the CHARACTERS are aware of the time changes. If they are (Somewhere In Time; Back to the Future), it's part of the storyform. If they're not (Memento; Pulp Fiction), then it's storyweaving. A good example of seeing storyweaving at work in a story that spans many decades is The Remains of the Day. The film begins in the present and intercuts events that happened in the past all the way to the end. The characters are not aware of the moving back and forth between time periods. Effectively, the film's point of attack is the beginning of the fourth (last) act. It then inserts Acts 1-3 in proper chronological order within the exploration of Act 4. The end of the movie is the last part of Act 4. Alternative ways to have a story in different time periods include:

  • Bookend the story with storytelling, such as in the movie, Stand By Me, and the play, The Glass Menagerie.
  • Interweave two or more stories from different time periods, e.g. The Godfather II.

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