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Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for Flashback


In the world of writing, "a flash back is just that: a flash backwards in time, giving the reader a glimpse at an earlier event. It is a form of exposition in that it should convey necessary information. For example if your mc has been treated badly in the past and this has influenced who he/she is as the story begins then a flashback could be very helpful in showing or telling the reader what the mc endured, thereby contributing to character. But don't confuse a flashback (a glimpse of the past) with backstory (everything that happened before the story began). Flashbacks should be brief, and they will be most effective "if the very fact of their occurrence contributes to the revelation of character and theme."*


Do you use flashbacks in your writing? 


* Janet Burrow quotes this from David Madden's A Primer of the Novel for Readers and Writers.

7 comments:

Huntress said...

I never thought about the difference between flashback and backstory.

What a revelation...I have a theory, newly formed. Backstory is an example of "telling". Flashbacks "show" a character's mental state.

Way cool. Thanks :D

Chrys Fey said...

I had a couple of flashbacks in Seismic Crimes that I ended up having to remove. The first was cute but didn't add to the story. The second did add to the story (and was the deleted scene I shared last week on my blog), but my editor felt it would be best to turn the flashback into information given during an interrogation. Plus it was long. But I do enjoy flashbacks.

Darla M Sands said...

I have toyed with flashbacks, though rarely. I'm not quite sure I trust myself to pull it off. Thanks for this.
Awakening Dreams and Conquering Nightmares with a Pen
Happy blogging! And be well.

Kristin said...

I don't think I do, but now that I've read the difference between the two, I think I will try some flashbacks in my next story.

Finding Eliza

cleemckenzie said...

You're right about flashbacks. They must be brief. They must come and go seamlessly. They must not be back story. Great short and to the point post.

Liz A. said...

I just put one in the last chapter I was working on. It may have to be cut, but it foreshadows the introduction of a new character in the next chapter. I'll have to see how it's received by my group.

Carrie-Anne said...

Almost the entire Part II of my current WIP will be flashback chapters. The idea was inspired by Leon Uris's Exodus, where the early flashback chapters about the Ben Canaan brothers, Karen, and Dov aren't so much long flashbacks as integral parts of the narrative, in essence becoming real-time stories, without which we couldn't understand these character and their stories.