Flashback: You May Rember This From Before

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"The flashback might lead you into a moment of climax but then go from there to develop the details that are more properly part of the exposition" (101).

While reading chapter five of Roberts, I was completely drawn into the part about flashbacks. This could be because they're usually my favorite part in a story or book. (Plus, it gives me the chance to push one of my favorite books on everyone.) Usually sequencing a story in the bland way of this happens, followed by this, and as an end result this happens gets old quickly. By using the flashback method the writer can entertain the reader and leave several cliffhangers throughout the story.

In the book, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, the author expertly uses the flashback mechanism to illustrate what is taking place. Throughout the story, the characters are thrown between the craziness that is taking place in the present as well as still being tangled and engaged with the past. Through the explanation of the past, the present situation starts to become a little clearer to all the characters. Without having use of flashbacks, this story could not have been set up in the same format to include the narrator who learns about the past from these flashbacks. It also allows the reader to try to guess the ending of the story of who's who and how the book will end, which actually turns out to be trickier than you might imagine.  

6 Comments

I love flashbacks too! They need to be written effectively, though. Sometimes flashbacks can get a bit repetitive, especially in television, but if they're done in a way that leaves the audience on the edge, they can be extremely provoking and intriguing.

Jessica Orlowski said:

I LOVE flashbacks, particularly in movies. Quentin Tarantino loves this method, and it makes for some pretty amazing movies.

Cody Naylor said:

I agree with you both. Well-written flashbacks are a great way to convey a story. Whenever I come across a flash-back in a book, I feel like I am being told a story by one of the characters. And Melissa, I read "The Thirteenth Tale" too!I really enjoyed it and I agree that there really was no other way that the story could have been told.

Melissa Schwenk said:

I'm glad that everyone enjoys flashbacks as much as I do. Karyssa - I agree that sometimes flashbacks get repetitive sometimes, but I think a good author knows when they're needed and when they're not.
Cody - Finally, I found someone else who read this book!

Ashley Pascoe said:

I have to agree as well. I love when authors and directors use this method. It really adds to the feel of the story and can effectively help a psychological thriller that is pieced together at the end of the story.

Exactly. I think that flashbacks are difficult to write, even though they don't seem like they would be. Perhaps it's because some authors choose to tell rather than show when they write flashbacks, making the account less believable and boring. I'll have to look for the book you mentioned. It sounds like something that would interest me.

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