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An author can use flashbacks to bring more depth, suspense and excitement to a story. What are flashbacks? How does one incorporate them into a story?
Flashbacks (flash is a quick glimpse and back means at a time in the past) are used by the author to relate to the reader events that happened before the time currently being written about, events that happened at some past time in the characterís life. How does one write flashbacks so that they donít break the flow of the story?
There are advantages to flashbacks. They add depth to your characters and story; they add suspense to your plot. Through flashbacks, you can convey to your reader the reasons why a certain character acts the way he does. Crucial information that can be revealed in no other way can be brought out in the open.
Charles Dickens used flashbacks in his classic, A Christmas Carol. If you havenít read it and are interested in reading a story where the use of flashbacks is done so well that they are a major part of the story , I strongly recommend obtaining a copy. In this story, the events of the past were definitely pertinent to the story being told. You know that Ebenezer Scrooge is looking back into the past, but each flashback is also vital to the story at the time it is taking place.
There is one thing you need to be sure of before deciding to use a flashback. Does it add to your story? Flashbacks do interrupt the current flow of the story. If using flashbacks is not necessary to get the information to your reader, try using some other way to make what happened in the past known. Dialogue and dreams are great tools to merge the past with the present.
Now if you are sure that you need to write one or more flashbacks, how can you do it? Since the event talked about in the flashback is old news and has already happened, you want it to come after a strong, action-filled scene. Another option is to write your flashbacks as prologues at the beginning of each chapter or section of your book.
Let your reader know at the beginning of the flashback that the time and/or place have changed. If you donít do this, you are liable to confuse and lose your reader. This isnít always easy to do smoothly. One way to do so is to write out the flashback scene first, then work it into the story so its smooth flow isnít interrupted.
Transition the flashback into the story by using saying something like Dorothy remembered the morning her mother died or Jameka felt as though she had returned to the time she accidentally locked her keys in the car.
That was then, though, and this was now or Philip decided that the past must remain the past are just a few of the ways you can transition gracefully out of the flashback. If you donít send the reader clues when you are transitioning in and out of the flashbacks, you risk confusing them. They are liable to become frustrated and put your book down, possibly never to pick it up again.
Flashbacks can be paragraphs long, or they may only consist of a few sentences. Donít make one any longer than it needs to be or you risk deviating from the plot and boring the reader.
Flashbacks - Naomi had a terrible experience with cats during her childhood. Memories of this experience are triggered by only one thing. What is the one thing that triggers the horrible memories? Take us through a scenario where she flashes back to the incident in her mind.
If you wish, you may post the scenario you write in the forum.
If you would like to buy a copy of A Christmas Carol from Amazon, a link is provided below.
Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Binion. All rights reserved.
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