A flashback is when the story is interrupted or placed on hold to present an event that occurred prior to the events of the narrative. They are used to explain a character’s history with another character or explore a particular relationship with a place and/or object. Using a flashback is not inherently bad and can serve to expand an important point but that doesn’t mean it should always been employed, particularly when there are other devices that might serve the narrative better.
Flashbacks can be replaced by prologues
If you have a flashback near the beginning of your story, it might be worth making the scene into a prologue. Given that prologues introduce and set up events and themes prior to the main story, you might find that the flashback is better served here.
If you want to use flashback, be consistent with it
Once you’ve determined that a flashback is necessary for your plot, do your best to ensure that you use the device for more than just a one off situation. It should relate directly to the character and/or the plot and it is something that comes up again and again as it is an integral part of the character’s current development.
Install a trigger
A flashback is a memory and most memories occur as a result of a trigger. Say there is a core event that affects your character such as a painful break up. That character is going to experience different aspects or “flashbacks” of that memory based on different triggers. This could be a smell, a location, object or what someone says. By installing a trigger your linking the flashback directly to the story and character and thus, it will look less like a crutch and more like an integral part of the story.
Do you have a flashback in your story? Do you like stories that have flashbacks? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!
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Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Nov. 22, 2019
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