I’m trying to come up with unconventional essay structures that are like a montage.

For example, explaining your role in a band by sharing important dates in the band's history as in a single paragraph - one paragraph is one date.

Or, using describing different styles of glasses you wore throughout the years and how wearing that pair of glasses changed your mood, actions, self perception. Again, with each paragraph a specific pair of glasses and corresponding timeframe.

What techniques could I use so this would seem like the cinematic technique of a montage?

1 Answer 1


Montages work because cinema can use visual data to establish the change in setting and timeframe and this lets the scene focus on action and dialog to communicate the story. This is not the case when writing since every scene change competes with action and dialog for setting.

I think that for you to pull this off you need to front load your montage with the settings and timeframes associated with your band dates or eyewear. This would let you use a shortened description to establish the new setting and timeframe with each new paragraph since you are only needing to remind the reader of information you’ve already provided.

Alice Munro uses a similar technique when she shifts time in her short stories.

To establish the intensity of a montage, the writing would need to use clear sharp and descriptive information.

I think transitions would present a challenge. Montages don’t need them, but writing very much does, especially in an essay. Similarly, Deep POV or stream of consciousness might give the intimacy needed to communicate to make this kind of story engaging. But, these two methods are very internal and don’t lend themselves to an external focused cinematic writing style.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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