1. LionofPerth
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    LionofPerth Senior Member

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    To flashback, or not to Flashback, that is the question

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by LionofPerth, Jul 23, 2007.

    I've been getting a lot of work done for Balance, and I find that so far, half of my scenes involve a character that only comes back around half way through the currently plotted events.

    Now it's clear some of these scene will have to be flashbacks, but do I make them proper flashbacks, or dreams?

    I don't like the idea of just flashbacks, because that's going to seem like he stuck in the past, but just dreams, well, it would feel like he never gets enough sleep.

    Your opinions?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Can yoiu break up the flashbacks into small pieces? Your character pulls an item out of his pack, and remembers... poof, you're in his reverie. pop back to reality for a moment, and he reads the inscription, - pop, yto another memoty connected to the inscription...


    Or someone could be asking about his unique tattoo/weapon, amulet. etc. Your character doesn't answer. or perhaps he does. Either way, his thoughts go back to that moment.

    Dreams can work too. I used a nightmare recently in a short story to introduce background, but more for the emotional impact than for facts. I provided more of the facts in dialog and waking memory.

    http://www.writingforums.org/showpost.php?p=60475&postcount=1

    My best suggestion would be to find examples of flashbacks by writers whose work you enjoy, and see what methods seem most effective for you.
     
  3. LionofPerth
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    LionofPerth Senior Member

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    Well, one of my fanfics is told by flashabck, the character telling is remembering the more interesting moments, that works.

    The various scene's I am coming up with are small, maybe about a thousand words each, so they are small little memories, build a little bit of history between Leon and Sheree, and why he started to hunt the evil that appears in this world.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    1000 words isn't what I'd call brief for a flashback, although it's also not a full chapter excursion dowm memory lane.

    The thing about dreams is that they usually aren't literal replays from the past. They are usually distorted and fragmented.
     
  5. Dan Rhodenizer
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    Dan Rhodenizer Member

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    I try to stay away from flashbacks. If possible try and wrap up any of that kind of stuff in the Prologue.
     
  6. LionofPerth
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    LionofPerth Senior Member

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    Would if I could, but I can't.

    A character who is presumed dead turns back up in the story, and she's been away for three and half years.

    The problem is I don't want to throw in a new character, I want the readers to feel they know her, why Leon loves her, and she loves him, why the pair of them fight the darkness that invades the world.

    So, either I show her in dreams, and honestly, if I was going to do that I might as well give up on the whole story and go for erotica, or I have some flashbacks, but I'd rather not include that many.

    I can certainly have him tell tales which include her, like their first vamp and zombie kills, but other things are almost required to be flashbacks.
     
  7. Dan Rhodenizer
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    Dan Rhodenizer Member

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    Well if the flashbacks are required, than I say go ahead and do it that way. Just as long as there are not many flashbacks, you should be fine. It is definitely not going to ruin your novel or whatever it is that you are making.

    However, these are words from someone who does not know as much as others here.
     
  8. LionofPerth
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    LionofPerth Senior Member

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    The problem is, when I used the flashback idea in the fic as I did, i was telling the story in reverse, and I feel if I start to have these little episodes of memories popping back up, then I'll create a tonne more work.

    For the fic example, the character leaves, but in fact, he's already arrived from his trip, yes I know that means there are two of them running around, two people occupying one time/space etc.

    So, the second chapter, is in fact, ancient history as his journey is, as i am up to something like a short novel in terms of words.

    I guess I worked myself into a habit, not good huh?
     
  9. Dan Rhodenizer
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    Dan Rhodenizer Member

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    Maybe earlier in the story, you can have a scene or two that has Leon talking to one of his friends about her. He can express his feelings towards her to his friend and share a memory or two. This way when she comes back, the reader will know a little bit about her and know how Leon feels about her. Instead of resorting to all these flashbacks. I don't know.
     
  10. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I've used flashbacks. Usually, as Cogito suggested, they are often precipitated by a question from another character, or some memory-stirring event. In the story where I used them, they became an integral part of it, and in order to understand the full backstory of the characters, the reader is fed information overtly (through the flashbacks) as well as covertly (through little things in dialogue, thoughts and description). I don't think that flashbacks are necessarily a bad thing, so long as they are skillfully done.
     
  11. LionofPerth
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    LionofPerth Senior Member

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    I could do that, but I don't feel I'd do Shree any justice. If you have a look at the Balance topic in the Novel thread, you get an idea they are pretty close.

    I want the reader to feel as close as Leon does to her.
     

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