Recently, I wrote a short story that contains a flashback in the middle that was used to explain a major plot point in the story. Does a significant scene set as a flashback break up the flow of a short story (usually considered to be somewhere between 1,000 and 15,000 words, depending on who is asked), and if so, why?

1 Answer 1


It's all about context. I don't think there's a blanket answer. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is, in a sense, a flashback in the middle of the story, but it works exquisitely.

  • Even short stories need structure (more so, possibly). So it can work in exactly the same way as for a longer story. Aug 3, 2012 at 10:46
  • The flashback in the Bierce piece you mentioned is actually an inside-out framing device for the real action of the story. I wouldn't really call it a flashback, either, since it's more of a dream sequence — part memory, part fantasy.
    – Robusto
    Aug 4, 2012 at 12:13
  • I agree, which is why I wrote "in a sense." My point was that there's no hard-and-fast rule; it depends on the story. Aug 4, 2012 at 13:12

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