1. Reximus
    Offline

    Reximus Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0

    Cueing Flashbacks

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Reximus, Dec 2, 2009.

    In my fantasy novel I have decided to have various flashbacks (not too many) too explain things about my characters and what made them who they are.

    I already have the flashbacks but I want to have various ways of cueing them.

    The ideas I came up with off the top of my head are:

    Waking up sweating from a dream of the past.
    Being reminded of the past from something happening presently.
    Explaining your past because of a question asked.

    I'm curious, what other ways can you think of to show a flashback?
     
  2. In Antarctica
    Offline

    In Antarctica Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2009
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON
    Just cut to it. Think about how your own memories work. Are there always nice straightforward-narratively-sensible things that trigger a memory? If your writing is clear and effective, the reader will understand that a flashback has been introduced (and if they don't, the ambiguity can be narratively useful too) and you can maintain the sense of fragmented consciousness that we all understand from real experience.
     
  3. hszmv
    Offline

    hszmv Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    I, personally like the present action sparking a flashback. Dream sparking lends itself to boring expositiong feel, where as an interview scenario is easy to write into the flashback but hard to write out of if it's too dark of a response. But that's how I see it. I use a lot of dialog, so often what a secondary character says will bring up a memory in the MC's mind, cuing a flashback.
     
  4. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,215
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Denmark
    I would suggest not to use objects. Someone looking at a clock and remembering their childhood because they had a clock on their nightstand as 6-year olds, or other things in that vein. I just think it's amazingly cheesy. If anything should cue a flashback it should rather be emotional states.
     
  5. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    I have to disagree....while the connection between the current emotional state and events in the past is undoubtedly important, in my experience it's the tangible things that are most evocative. Say, for instance, your character is in a situation where he is scared. That may throw up some vague flashbacks of other times he has been scared, but it seems most likely that those experiences will be indelibly inscribed onto tangible, actual events, objects and experiences (I was scared when the car crashed/by the crazy guy/of the dark as a child), and those things will bring up the memories much more easily than a vague emotional connection. That's not to say you can't be creative with it; I agree that your clock example is terribly contrived, but that doesn't mean that the principle can't be applied successfully. Some of the greatest stories relating to memory rely on this idea: Proust, Nabokov, Tolstoy. Its only people like Dan Brown who insist on the terribly obvious and blatant connections to trigger flashbacks (every time Langdon is in a cramped space we are subjected to a flashback to his childhood, every time Langdon sees his Mickey Mouse watch we are subjected to a flashback to his childhood; it's terrible....)
     
  6. Roland of Gilead
    Offline

    Roland of Gilead Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2009
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Winona, MN
    I agree with this. Maybe throw in a few hints to let the reader know its a flashback, but nothing too overt.
     
  7. Sound of Silence
    Offline

    Sound of Silence Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Close to madness
    I'd back this. Everyhing around us tells us something about our personality and to try and get away from those items not having an effect and stirring memories doesn't really portray how we cope with memories in real life, and if you try to move away from that, you betray the readers faith in your ability.
     

Share This Page