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I am doing a writing assignment and I need to include either a flashback or a flash forward. I am starting my story in the middle of the plot and then going back and giving detail about what happened before that moment. Does that count as having either a flash back or flash forward?

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I think it'll depend how it is executed. I believe if you move the whole of the narrative into 'real time' in the past, that will flash the reader back. Alternatively, if you weave in the past through memory, introspection, contextualization, and associations, it will not.

To illustrate:

Nacio threw the glock down. "I ain't a murderer." His thoughts flashed back to an incident twenty years earlier. His father had just told him to put the dog out of its misery. "No, Dad, I don't want to." "It's part of growing up, son. Taking care of others, helping them through their pain. Now this dog of yours is counting on you." (etc)...

Compare that to:

Nacio threw the glock down. "I ain't a murderer." He never had been, and he knew full well he never would be. Even when his father would talk about good deaths and bad deaths; even when he insist Nacio put his own dog down, to end Charcoal's misery, he had refused. His father had almost disowned him over it, but he would never have a hand in any creature's death. "I don't kill," he repeated.

That's not a flashback, because it's couched as memory in the moment.

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    This is AS. Thanks so much for everybody's comments! I asked my teacher about it and she agreed with Alexander and SFWriter if I read y'all's answers right. Here is what she said: "Sounds like a genuine flashback to me 😁" Well, thanks again for y'alls help! And by the way, @Alexander: Thanks for the article reference. It was real helpful!
    – A S
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 13:31
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I don't think so. What you are doing is a "teaser", you see that in TV series once in a while: The opening scene is a character doing something dramatically out of character or surprising, like lying in a coffin, or a cop firing on other cops.

But then the freeze and put up a Super that says "48 hours ago..." and all is normal with that same character. That first scene is a "teaser".

And it turns out they weren't dead in that coffin, or the cops they were firing on were imposters, or whatever.

A flashback is when a character is clearly remembering something; e.g. I have a scene I wrote in which a woman begins telling a story from her childhood to her young daughter; and we change the scene and there she is as a child; we have a few words of narrative and then it is live action. We end that the same way; the live action stops, we return to the woman and her daughter, and she finishes the last few lines of the story.

I think your teacher would like something that is more clearly a flashback; specifically somebody is remembering some incident, then you write that as live present action, then break that off and come back to the person narrating it: "And that was the last I ever saw of ol' Bill, but I heard he made it all the way 'cross to San Francisco with that money and opened himself a nice burger joint."

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    Imho this kind of "teaser" is caller "flash forward"
    – Alexander
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 20:12
  • @Alexander Okay. But after the "flash forward" is not a flashback.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 20:54

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