1. Forbidden
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    Forbidden New Member

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    Diaglogue to Flashback

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Forbidden, Aug 29, 2010.

    As the title says, I'm having trouble transitioning from a dialogue to a flashback.

    The antagonist, after about a 100 word exchange with a minor character, is asked his motives; although it is a bit cliched, he will say "You don't remember me? You don't remember how..." and then the flashback, told from third person, will establish some motives, as well as more character development...

    Any advice on how to do this transition?
     
  2. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    "You don't remember me? You don't remember how..."

    [start new para]
    John (the protagonist) still had a vivid memory of the day his father came home drunk for the first time. It was the day before his fifteenth birthday .........


    You can use something like this, just make sure you make it clear to the readers that they are no more in the present scene.
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    He's just explaining this to a genuinely minor character? If you only have them in the room to proc the flashback, you might as well just have the villain on his own, and give him a more personal trigger to the flashback, then weave it in as part of that same scene.

    If the minor character's meant to know it, though, then you could always end the scene with "You don't remember how..." then jump to whenever the minor character needs to divulge this information, whether several scenes pass between then or not, and reveal it then, as blanking out a minor character's speech in favour of third person narration is a lot more polite than smothering your main antagonist's desire for a good chat. Writing speech is all such good characterisation, I'd hate to leave any of it out in favour of narrative flashbacks. :p

    Eh, you just seemed a bit unsure about the cliché of it, so I had a poke round at what else you could do. :p
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A flashback either should be in it s own chapter, or delimited by a section break. It's a sharp break from chronological flow.

    A section break is indicated in manuscript by a line containing only a centered #. A section break should be used whenever a scene transition within a chapter involves a major change in flow or point of view.

    That's the purely nechanical aspect. In terms of good writing, the scene context must cue the reader of the drastic change in chronology, such as an obvious change of season or locale, or a physical difference in one or more of the characters in the scene. The cue should appear in the first sentence of the flashback scene, so the reader isn't left hanging even a minute longer than necessary.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    just take a look in novels by the best writers to see how they do it...
     
  6. T.N. Tobias
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    T.N. Tobias Member

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    Editors hate them some flashbacks. If it must be told in narrative format, start a new paragraph with a single had to indicate we are talking about the before time and continue in the current time with a section break.

    But, if you can weave the past into dialog, you'll be doing even better. I.E.:

    "I can't believe you'd do that to your own mother," said Lisa.
    "You didn't have to grown up in that house, did you?" Frank's face reddened. "You didn't sit home night after night, wondering if she'd ever come home. And if she did what she'd drag back with her. God knows what she did when I left for school. Now that I'm in control of my own life, I'll damn well do as I please."

    Many backstory flash backs are simply to enlighten the reader on a fairly small bit of information. If the character can express that information without having to interrupt the narrative, it makes your chapter stronger.
     

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