"Narrative Structure and Coherence, Where Can the Line Be Drawn?".
Tim O"Brien's "How to Tell a True War Story" and Madison Smartt Bell's "Linear Design" show certain similarities along with certain differences in structure. Bell's piece focuses on the possible formats that stories could follow. According to Bell, the Freitag triangle exemplifies the general symmetry of scheme, that writers use while following linear narrative. In contrast, O"Brien's piece tells broken up stories of the men who participated in the Vietnam war. He describes the experiences of the men, and the emotions they felt during the war. During the comparison of these two pieces certain similarities are distinguished. O"Brien's piece follows the dragon's back format, that Bell described in "Linear Design". Instead of staying along one story line, O"Brien's guiding concept is therefore seen through numerous peaks and valleys. The two stories also have their own significant differences. O"Brien does not use chronological order, or suspense in the way that Bell describes it in "Linear Design". Comprehensively these two pieces each express intertwining similarities and differences. .
The main focus of Madison Smartt Bell's work on "Linear Design" is the format of the Freitag triangle. Although it can vary with symmetry, it still holds the general shape of a normal geometric triangle. The analogy of a dragon's back is introduced in Bell's piece as a visual. From it the reader could grasp the concept of sub-plots and mini-climaxes very well. These sub-plots and mini-climaxes are looked at as representing a pattern of many smaller peaks and valleys within writing. Bell states that "there may occur a pattern of many smaller peaks and valleys. These represent smaller sub-climaxes and resolutions to subplots and subordinate conflicts over the course of a story" (Bell 28). Bell discusses suspense as a key factor in the plot which keeps the reader wanting more.