Writers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for authors, editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the name of the structure of a novel that is not in chronological order but moves between characters (viewing the same or different topic)?

share|improve this question
Sounds like you're describing "non-linear" and "multi-narrative." – Joe Parker Apr 2 '14 at 14:35

I don't know any one word that encompasses both. But if a narrative is not chronological, it's anachronic, and if it follows multiple characters, it's heterodiegetic.

So maybe heterodiegetic anachrony is the term you're looking for.

Source: Gérard Genette, Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method, trans. by Jane Lewin (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980).

share|improve this answer
+1 for a word combination I cannot even pronounce :) – John Smithers Mar 25 '14 at 10:01

I've always called it "nonlinear multi-perspective".

Rashomon is probably the best known example of this structure in storytelling. It's a movie based on Ryunosuke Akutagawa's short story "In a Grove" (the movie's title is from another of Akutagawa's stories).




share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.