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I think I asked a question that was similar, but this question is different, because the context is completely different. One of the issues is that sometimes you waste 10 panels doing a simple exposition, like when you write a scene for a mission briefing. Could you do a one panel flashback to a scene that was never shown after the first panel of a mission?

Let me illustrate both options:

Option 1:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (mission briefing) > 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 (actual mission)

Option 2:

11 (actual mission), 5 (flashback) 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 (actual mission)

Option 2 saves you 9 panels. Panel 5 is shown as a flashback in option 2 even though it was not shown before. Is this totally ok? I think I remember seeing something like this before, but I don't clearly remember it being an actual thing. I am not 100% sure.

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    It's not the question you asked, so a comment. I actually prefer that flashbacks be to things not seen before so I don't have to watch the thing twice. Flashback's should be used sparingly and with care.
    – Boba Fit
    Jan 13, 2023 at 13:27

2 Answers 2

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I think it is quite common to do flashback to a time before the start of the story. You really don't need to limit flashbacks to skipped scenes (i.e. ones that fall on the timeline between other scenes you covered). In fact, I often get a bit annoyed when authors do the latter, because if they present a timeline like it covers everything important then it feels like they've deceived me by suddenly going back and inserting something else.

So if you save your reader a lot of unnecessary filler (1-4, 6-10) by just doing a flashback to scene 5, then I would certainly recommend that. The important thing is that the reader gets the information they need when it makes sense.

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I'm not a comic writer; but I see nothing wrong with that; in any story, it is a good idea to cut unnecessary scenes and just show the crucial scenes. If panel 5 is the main reason to show the mission briefing at all; then just show panel 5.

You will notice on TV cop shows, they often show a mission briefing already well in progress; they have a mission board with photos and all sorts of stuff, and at the end comes the crucial instruction.

In a flashback, just make sure it is clear to the reader a flashback is in progress. One way is to have a character say so: "Remember what Cap said in the briefing?" (FLASHBACK: Cap talking in the briefing). You can often do that by BG setting and costume changes; from a battlefield (actors outside, dressed for battle), to an office setting (inside, uniforms but not battle dress), back to battlefield.

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