At the moment, I am with Sue on her opinions on the use of flashbacks. She is a much more experienced and successful author than I, so you should read her original post.
I have recently been watching the TV series ‘The Serpent’. It makes me dizzy! It jumps back and forth in time and I spend my time trying to figure out where and when I am and putting effort into retro-fitting the current scene into the timeline that is in my head. I am determined to see it through to the end though.
I tried to make the second chapter of my current WIP novel a flashback. The first chapter is full of action, tragedy and strong emotion. The second chapter is the main protagonist’s reflection on her very happy times with one of the characters who dies in the first chapter, a whole decade back. I just could not get it to work. It bored me, so it would slay my readers!
Anyway, I recommend that you read Sue’s blog post. It is guaranteed to make you think.
I always think carefully before utilising flashbacks to reveal backstory. There are other techniques available.
A flashback gives information about backstory to the readers and usually involves a complete change of scene as the incident from the past takes centre stage. It moves the narrative back in time from the point it has reached – ‘flashing back’ to a prior point.
FOR: Flashbacks can be a fabulous way to manipulate a timeline – or two or more timelines – if your novel involves that structure.Or the storyline can be suspended for the flashback to take place at a point that creates a cliffhanger. Frequently, flashbacks are used to tell the readers the backstory. Some genres use them so much that their readers must enjoy them.
AGAINST: A flashback halts the action, so any momentum my story’s building up is lost. Even if it’s exciting and crammed with intrigue, a flashback…
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