Tips for writing “flashbacks”













Tip 1: make it clear the character is going back in time.


Give the character a trigger – he sees an object, smells a scent, or experiences an action.

For stories written in past tense, use past perfect tense a few times when entering the flashback. Once in, switch to past tense until near the end of the flashback, then switch to past perfect a few times. After leaving the flashback, return to past tense. (Limits cumbersome past perfect.)

For stories written in present tense, use the simple past in the flashback.




Tip 2: Write the flashback so it:

*Serves a purpose – shows what shaped characters into who they are now or shows past story world.
*Engages the reader.

*Is limited to key moments.

Tip 3: Write ending sentences that transition the reader and character from the flashback.


*Use another trigger – abrupt or easing.

*Change verb tense as mentioned above.



Tip 4: After the flashback, the reader must see the character or story world in a new light as they read forward in the present.




General:

1.Don’t use flashbacks as a cop-out to avoid writing difficult present story.

2.Don’t include more than one or two flashbacks.

3.Let go of a merely interesting flashback from a character’s biography.

4.Use flashbacks only after the reader’s engaged in the story and knows the character (after several scenes).

5.Make sure a flashback advances the main story.

6.Make sure a flashback scene, like a main-story scene, has goals, motivations, and resolutions.

7.Give long flashbacks their own chapter or scene.

8.Hold back flashbacks until the reader must know the information – keep the suspense going.

9.Have flashbacks follow exciting scenes so the reader will want to return to the main story.


http://zoemmccarthy.com/writing/flashbacks-when-theyre-not-appropriate-and-tips-for-when-they-are

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43 thoughts on “Tips for writing “flashbacks”

  1. Great tips on this rather difficult transportation into the past Amir. I have seen some film noir where the protagonist begins his story with just a few words that propel him back to the “beginning” and the entire tale is in that prospective, up to the close out. Thanks again for a most interesting and enlightening article.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. in radio productions a flashback to the good old times quite often uses the chime of a harp to accentuate the dialogue’s changing into past – often used as a cliché for comedic effect. Anybody know if there is any specific term for that?
    Thanks for liking Nat’s Cats Nuts, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello there, one of my most loyal ‘liker’ , not your royal highness but your loyal likeness
        I already thought I had overstrained your tolerance because I posted quite a few things tiday, a bit much, really, for anybody’s inbox :} – I am pretty certain, though, that won’t happen again in a hurry…

        Like

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