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I'm struggling to identify established terms for analyzing non-linear narratives.

If the narrative chronology is the order in which events are narrated, what is the standard term for the "internal" chronology of the fiction itself?

And to which of the two "chronologies" should we seek to apply the standard structural patterns like e.g. Freytag's pyramid?

For example, in Hamlet, the event that arguably kicks off the whole sordid tale is when Claudius murders the king, but the actual narrative starts in media res with the appearance of the king's ghost. Sources disagree on which of the two events is the "inciting incident".

Non-linear narratives date back millennia, can it really be true that we're still struggling with the terminology?

  • This looks like an interesting question. Welcome to the site ;) – Gallifreyan Aug 3 '17 at 21:25
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    "Non-linear narratives date back millennia, can it really be true that we're still struggling with the terminology?" Well, almost all stories are non-linear--everyone has flashbacks or remembers things--the only difference is how much this happens. So maybe thinking about a linear/non-linear binary isn't the best way to go about this. – user111 Aug 3 '17 at 21:32
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Some refer to the events themselves as the story, while the recounting of those events is the discourse. You can impress your friends by using the words fabula and sjuzhet, which mean the same thing in Russian. A search on "narratology" will give you all the information you need.

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    This is a very short answer. Could you perhaps expand on this, e.g. by including some of the information one might find by a search on "narratology"? – Rand al'Thor Aug 4 '17 at 20:56

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