- Chronological. Straight forward, one plot point after another.
- Circular. The story comes full circle in some way. Ground Hog Day would be an extreme example. Usually, there’s some element that ties the end back to the beginning.
- Disconnected. The story isn’t told in one continuous stream. The narrative jumps forward, flashes back, but the seemingly disconnected scenes come together to form a whole story in the end. Think Pulp Fiction or The Time Traveler’s Wife.
- Nested / framed . There’s a story within a story (maybe even within a story). Adaptation (2008) is the best example I can think of. It’s a movie about writing a movie based a book about real life Orchid thieves. The outer story—Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage) struggling to adapt the book—gets intertwined with the inner story about the subject of the book.
- Wandering / tangential. Think Family Guy. One action leads to another in a wholly unexpected direction or consequence. Brian and Stewie may start off showing a pig at the county fair, but they end up in an alternative universe where Brian is human. But it all works.
Can you guys think of any other plot structures or examples?