I am currently writing a short story that has two intertwined narratives told in inverse chronological order from each other. The two narratives meet/converge at the moment the protagonists receive information about the consequences of a particular action (the main conflict of the narratives), and diverging from each other thereafter. Instead of having the exposition twice (there is no difference in the information relayed), I am trying to interleave the information in a way where there is no redundancy to the reader, but still maintains the inverse chronology of the narratives. Are there any efficient ways to go about this?

  • 1
    This sounds very interesting. I would love to read this. As for something you could do... try a third narrative which mentions the incidents of the common event and links the first two narratives.. or you can simply write it from the view of either one of the narratives but end the situation in the second narrative.. so the relation is established. Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 9:09
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    That sounds very clever, but I hope your readers can follow, since I'm not an english major and can't follow exactly what you're saying that you're doing. That would be a lot to pack into a short story but neat if it works.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 14:27
  • Do narration 1 and narration 2 have the same narrator?
    – Alexander
    Commented Sep 14, 2020 at 18:13
  • @Alexander Yes. Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 0:02
  • Does narration 1 follow protagonist 1, and narration 2 protagonist 2, or something else? Commented Nov 18, 2020 at 12:02

3 Answers 3


Indirect dialogue.

In one narrative you show the dialogue. In the other narrative you use indirect dialogue.

To paraphrase from the link provided: indirect dialogue is a summary that informs the reader that the conversation took place and provides some cues as to the content, but it is not a transcription of the actual spoken words.

Direct dialogue:

Bob:"Thank you for coming by at such short notice."

Alice:"Tell me everything."

Bob:"The problem started yesterday."

Indirect dialogue:

Bob began telling Alice about the problem.

  • Indirect dialogue is very popular when multiple characters meet up and need to be brought to speed on the current plot. Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 18:26

Choose Different Conflicts

All scenes center on conflict. A character wants something, and something opposes them getting it.

To do the same scene twice, from two different points of view, you can give each character a different conflict. For best effect, each character should be so caught up in their own issue that they miss the other's problem entirely. You can give hints, but each conflict should only be fully understood when the scene is presented from the appropriate character's point of view.

You can also resolve these conflicts separately - the two scenes share a core dialog portion, but diverge as the character's interests pull them apart.


If there's an answer to that question, isn't it something like this, said to be written by Chanie Gorkin, an 11th grader from Brooklyn, New York:

Today was the absolute worst day ever

And don't try to convince me that

There's something good in every day

Because, when you take a closer look,

This world is a pretty evil place.

Even if

Some goodness does shine through once in a while

Satisfaction and happiness don't last.

And it's not true that

It's all in the mind and heart


True happiness can be attained

Only if one's surroundings are good

It's not true that good exists

I'm sure you can agree that

The reality


My attitude

It's all beyond my control

And you'll never in a million years hear me say

Today was a very good day

Now read the same thing backwards, from bottom to top…

  • @F1Crazy If you feel a need to debate this, by all means go to Chat. Otherwise, please either provide a link to the written SE rules that show how your opinions about punctuation are more valid than mine, or take back your Edits of my Post. Whatever, please understand that nothing you did was welcome, helpful, or warranted. Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 18:23
  • 1
    The rules on referencing, as listed in the help center, clearly indicate that quotes should be formatted using quote markup. I respectfully disagree that my edits were "unhelpful" or "unwarranted", though clearly they are indeed unwelcome. You're free to roll back edits you disagree with, though I'd really rather you didn't.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Mar 9, 2022 at 19:27
  • @F1Krazy Sorry. I just followed your link and found no single word relating to formatting or markup. Can you be more specific? I respectfully suggest that if you didn't disagree, you wouldn't have made those Edits. If you object to my using capitals to emphasize key words, that's your choice. If you Edit my text to suit your choice, that's vandalism. Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 23:12
  • The linked article states, "When you find a useful resource that can help answer a question [...] make sure you quote only the relevant portion", and contains a link to the article on how to add blockquotes, because that's how you're supposed to format the relevant portion. As for "using capital letters to emphasize key words", that's not standard English grammar.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 7:42
  • @F1Krazy thanks and if you think many members will give their time to read through however many links to find an article on how to add block quotes, doubtless you can explain why… You can insist all you like that using capitals outside standard English grammar is forbidden, and you please don't bother until you can Post a Stack Exchange ruling against it. If you truly see no few circumstances in which using capitals outside the standard rules is normal custom and practice, why not Ask about that in Chat? Don't you think this whole sideline should have been in Chat? Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 0:15

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