Flashback is a great device in writing fiction, but when and when not to use them can be tricky.
iWhen it is necessary to retell some background event or experience that now motivates the character’s actions or clarifies his or her present attitude towards something, the device used is called a flashback. It must be used skillfully, or it will bring the present action of story to a grinding halt. The reader is far more interested in what’s happening now and in what is going to happen next then in what occurred last summer, or last year, or ten years ago. The necessary flashback must be worked into the story line imperceptibly, so that the reader is in and out of it, and properly informed, without being aware of the literary maneuver.
What triggers a flashback in a scene? It can be something the character sees that can trigger a mental flashback. Any object can be a symbol that jogs the memory and sends us into another type of flashback, the scene is fully written as if it was happening like any other scene in the story.
The real test for the need of a flashback is whether or not it clarifies or intensifies what is happening now. If the flashback doesn’t add anything to the main story you do not need it. In fact, you should not use it because it is them merely padding that interrupts the flow of your story. If it does contribute something to the reader’s knowledge, then flashback quickly. Dramatize it as much as necessary, and then get back into the current flow of the story.
And that “flow” is now carrying us to the story climax and conclusion.
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