Monday, June 13, 2016

Flashbacks - My Observations

A flashback moves the reader from the present to the past. It may happen multiple times in a story. This technique is often frowned upon by editors, but I'm seeing more and more of them in books. When they're done well, they can be effective. By the same token, they can:

1.  Stop the forward action of a story.
2.  Confuse the reader.
3.  Take the edge off the story's tension.

Recently, I reviewed the book, "The Butterfly and The Violin." This was an example of a story with effective flashbacks. As I've mulled over why I think it worked so well, I came up with these thoughts:

1.  The historical content and present-day content were separated and didn't create confusion.
2.  The past provided a mystery for the present-day characters, while the reader had two stories that provided questions and interesting twists.
3.  At the end, both the past and present intertwined and came to satisfying conclusions.

Writers:  Do you use flashbacks in your stories? Please share.

Readers:  What is your opinion of flashbacks? Do you like them? Do they annoy you? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Guido Giardino


Karen Lange said...

I enjoy flashbacks when they make sense and are easy to follow. Appreciate your observations, Susan! :)

Marja Verschoor-Meijers said...

To be honest, they sometimes annoy me, especially when it confuses the story (or me, the reader). But on the other hand, it can be a welcoming change of scenery.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen - Yes, some of them are good and relevant to the story. Others jerk me out of the story flow.

Hi Marja - Good points. I get annoyed when a flashback is merely an extra-long parenthesis.