A flashback in a novel is a scene that takes place before the story begins, taking the reader back to a situation or event that happened in the past. Flashbacks can work really well to give context or explain motivation, but they need to be written really carefully.
- Make sure a flashback follows a strong scene. Flashbacks can be problematic in that they remove your character and therefore your reader from the action in your narrative. A strong preceding scene can ensure that the narrative is sustained.
- Ensure your reader knows exactly where and when they are. Make the transition into the past clear.
- Use the correct verb tense. If your main narrative is written in past tense, then the first sentences of the flashback should be in past perfect. You can then continue in simple past.
- When the flashback is over, make sure the transition to the ‘present’ of…
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A famous author was once asked how to best use flashbacks. His answer:”Not at all!”
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