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Order refers to the chronology a narrator uses to recount events of a story.



Order is a term coined by Gerard Genette in his book Narrative Discourse; it is the method by which a narrator chooses to organize and present events that comprise the story or are relevant to it. It refers to the connection between the order events have occurred in real time, and the order in which the narrator recounts them to readers. Thus, for example, events of a story could feasibly have occurred years before the narrative instance, providing the narrator with the ability to flip back and forth between real time and former times. Or, the narrator may relate events out of order due to his switching between the perspectives of different characters.


In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Two Towers, the narrative switches regularly from events occurring in one location (Gondor) to events occurring almost simultaneously in another (Rohan). Because to offer a play-by-play juxtaposition of events in these two locations with chronological integrity would demand inscrutable dialogue volleying, Tolkien orders these two narrative segments by alternating chapter.

Critical Debates

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Related Terms

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Genette, Gerard. Narrative Discourse.

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