My high school creative writing teacher once noted in the margin of an assignment that I had “memorialized a moment” in the story I submitted. I remember being surprised by his comment. I hadn’t intended to memorialize anything; but after I re-read what I had written, I agreed with his assessment. I had, indeed, preserved a memory. And while the piece did that well – I still remember the moment 26 years later – my teacher’s point was that the story did nothing other than serve as a way to never forget what had happened one rainy afternoon at a park. The story wasn’t anything anyone else would want to read because it lacked a plot, character development, conflict and a resolution. Since then, I’ve come a long way with my writing. But, as my critique group helped me realize recently, I apparently still like memorializing moments – even if they are moments experienced by fictional characters I create in my imagination. Continue reading
Tag Archives: flashbacks
Over the past month, the WriteOwls have been debating flashbacks in novels. Much of the writing advice we read cautions against using flashback scenes because they often do more harm than good. By pulling readers out of the storyline, you risk them getting confused about what’s happening and giving up on the story altogether. Despite the warnings, many of us feel compelled to include them in our stories for various reasons. So the question has become how to write them so they inform our readers while keeping them turning the pages. Continue reading
So, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to try my hand at flashbacks. These are perilous waters as there are a thousand and one ways to do it wrong. By wrong, I simply mean ineffective, trite, or clichéd. There are ways to get the point across, but they lack artistry or smooth transition. They pull me out of the story. My goal here is to look at places where I thought it was done well and lay down a few beginning groundrules for myself in the hopes that my use of sequences from the past will draw readers in deeper rather than bringing them to a grinding halt. For myself, I’ve found an excellent case study in Brandon Sanderson’s, The Way of Kings. Continue reading
. . . because, obviously, we’re talking about flashbacks. And, of course, the number one piece of advice on flashbacks is simple as pie. Don’t.
Wait. What? Back the trolley up. One look at modern media shows clearly that flashbacks, nonlinear storytelling, and in media res are all used often and to good effect. So why are we told to avoid flashbacks at all costs? Continue reading