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Flash Back format

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Gary Gaffney, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Gary Gaffney

    Gary Gaffney New Member

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    Hi guys,

    So I have a question that I could do with some opinions on. I decided to add a flash back to one of my character's early years in order to give some information to the reader about a race of people in my story. I had intended it to be just a couple of paragraphs but as i progressed into the flash back I just couldnt get the information across in the space alloted. It actually ran right up to a full chapter (about 20 pages). Now this in itself is not so much the problem, where I need advice is... would I be better off breaking the flash back into peices or to just leave it as is? I have discussed this with 2 of my friends and they dont agree. One friend thinks that its too big and it takes away from the main plot and the other friend thinks that to break it up will mess with the flow....

    I know that without the story being made availible it could be tricky to give advice, but any kind of advice would help.

    Thanks,
    G
     
  2. Androxine Vortex

    Androxine Vortex Archmage

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    I think that it might be too long and then when the flashback is over, the reader will say, "Oh yeah, this wasn't part of the main plot." So it's almost like they would have to readjust themselves and try to remember where they left off, and we don't want to confuse or distract the reader. I would either suggest shortening it but if you really can't then I would suggest breaking up the flashback. You don't have to keep all the details in a short amount of space though. Spread it out and make it seem more natural rather than going back and forth and back and forth. I personally find that very annoying. Good luck!
     
  3. Chime85

    Chime85 Sage

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    I agree with Androxine with this one. The key word in flashback is, flash. It will give the readers a reason to read on if you break these flashbacks to several points in your story, giving them smaller, bite sized nuggets of information and back story. As with what Androxine said, too much would be distracting to the reader and you could run the risk of stopping the story dead with such a large break from the timeline of the main story.

    If this seems unfavorable, try cutting down the flashback to one or two key events and have your character explain about his/her people through dialogue. That way, the reader is treated to the information regarding the race you want to write about, but the information is in keeping with the flow of the story.

    x
     
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I hate flashbacks, as a rule, so if there is going to be one I'd rather get it over with in one longer flashback instead of peppering smaller ones throughout the work. I've been known to skip flashbacks entirely, and if there's only one to potentially skip I'd be happier. Just my personal viewpoint :)
     
  5. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    Why not turn the flashback into a prologue?
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    [​IMG]

    :D
     
    Androxine Vortex likes this.
  7. Bear

    Bear Minstrel

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    In my third book I used a form of flashbacks or memories. The character got an order that she had to capture her best friend or terminate. That whole wanted dead or alive thing. As she read the dossier she began to have memories about her relationship with the character and her one friend. In that particular set up it worked well within the context of the story. Especially, since the characters were seperated. That's the only story where I used a flashback. I guess it was almost a psuedo flashback. It was almost like sifting through her memories.
     
  8. JonSnow

    JonSnow Troubadour

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    I had this very discussion a couple weeks ago with mine... and Steerpike and a couple others helped me out... I actually ended up scrapping a 12 page prologue and am breaking those events into a flashback (that will be about 5 pages), and some dialog from peripheral characters who were there.

    Gary, I'd say if your flashback is long, find a way to break it up. But I agree with SP that a flashback is generally preferable to a prologue.
     
  9. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    How important is the flashback? How does it shed light on the present? What does it say about the present?

    Figure these things out and I think you'll have your answer. Sometimes just a little snippet of flashback is enough to get a point across. Others times, you need everything. If the flashback is super important to the understanding of the present story, it's a candidate for it's own section. If the flashback is more for flavor, consider cutting it up and dropping bits throughout the story.
     
  10. Gary Gaffney

    Gary Gaffney New Member

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    Thanks guys,

    You have given me much to chew over. The information in the flash back is critical to the plot but I understand that 20 pages is quite large and I dont want the reader to have to readjust to the main plot... which I think they will... I certainly did. Okay, Ill see if its possible for me to take out some of the non-critical information.

    Thanks again,
    Much appreciated,
    G
     
  11. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I use flashbacks for my novel in progress, though not for something in the distant past. One of the main protagonists is found seriously injured on the road and has these dreams/flashbacks as she is recovering from her injuries. It serves the purpose of telling the readers what had happened to her; thus it serves to tell the story. I am perfectly fine with using flashbacks, so long as it furthers the story. Using it for background is alright too, so long as it still uses characters from the story rather than their ascestors or predecessors. There are many ways to add background to a race even through dialog or the regular narrative that perhaps work better than a flashback.
     
  12. BeigePalladin

    BeigePalladin Sage

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    I think flashbacks are something you need to be careful with - I'd advise, for flashing back, cutting out everything thats not exactly nececary to be shown first hand. Things like the guys race can be explained with dialoge as eaisly, and will cut away length.

    also, if you do decide to cut them up then keep the segments breif; possibly revealing information abut what happened only as that part becomes relevant or split between the segments. On of the better ways to make flashbacks more tolerable is to build tension and mystery in them, so readers will at least want to know what happenes in the next one and won't be as likely to skip it
     
  13. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    I'm having a conflict of....I'm not sure what to call it. But my idea is that it's two stories side by side, that or the story starts and ends with a view of the present, or future, with my protag grown up and watching his daughter go through life and growing into her powers. The other is that the book chapters alternate between times to cover daughter's story and her father's past. I'm trying to see if there's any way for both characters to be in the same time but I've got nothing. Any opinions?
     
  14. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    One of the tales I abandoned most of the way through featured a character going through repeated flash backs, in the form of dreams. In his case, it was a sort of post traumatic stress disorder, and his waking situation wasn't exactly stimulating (marooned on a desert island).
     
  15. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    Hmm...interesting. Sort of like that episode of Criminal Minds.
     
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