1. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    Suggestions? Best way to format flashbacks

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mikeinseattle, Feb 23, 2013.

    Hi everyone, first time poster here!

    I'm doing a novel which has a substantial back story. Can you offer an example I could look at? (something already published)

    Do books ever use two different fonts? (one for present day, one for flashbacks)

    What about italics? I have heard this is only reserved for certain special passages.

    Thanks!


    EDIT---- I guess I am asking more about how a finished product will look, rather than how to format a ms for submission. I'm sure that for submission's sake I'd be sending the whole thing in one font. Yes?
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  2. J.A.K.
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    J.A.K. Member

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    Hello and welcome to the forums!

    There are books that use two different fonts (The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kidd is an example), but none that I can think of that use it as a way to signify flashbacks. I would personally say that if a moment or a few paragraphs are flashbacks, then italics would work nicely. But if you're writing whole chapters worth of flashback, most readers will pick up on it without the use of different fonts or special techniques. However, it is important to remember that writing is an art in and of itself, and you as the author have the final say in how to signify something such as a flashback. Be creative! Maybe use ellipses (...) right before and after the flashback. How your story looks is entirely up to you.

    -J.A.K. O.U.T.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Books may use different fonts, but good writers do not. You are not responsible for the decisions made by the publisher and typesetters, but as a writer you should let the writing do the work.

    A flashback is like any other scene with a change of time and location from the previous scene. It is your responsibility to manage the transition in such a way that the reader does not get lost. But don't play with fonts or font decorations; italics are NOT duct tape for poor writing!
     
  4. JT Perry
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    JT Perry New Member

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    I think creatively choosing the appropriate words is all one needs. This might sound unkind and capricious but if I write a book I'm not sure I want the kind of reader whose biggest gripe is that I didn't specifically inform them of a transition in time.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the responsibility rests on the writer's shoulders, not the readers... if you write it well enough so transitions in time are clearly presented, the reader will not have a 'gripe'!

    ditto all cog had to say on the subject...

    and for self-pubbers who may want to descend to using italics instead of simply good writing, many readers like myself WILL gripe mightily at being forced to read large chunks of italicized text, as it's hard on the eyes and interrupts the smooth flow of the writing and the story...
     
  6. mikeinseattle
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    mikeinseattle Member

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    Thanks to everyone. I have found a way that fits my needs and will also align with traditional flashbacks.

    I appreciate your answers!
     

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