How do you add dialog in a scene where a flurry of memories is being shoved into your face one after another rapidly?

I was trying to write it and it can't be done. At least, the only way to do it is by writing X number of long paragraphs, but doing so destroys the purpose of a rapid flurry of memories that are entering a person's mind.

I wrote an example excerpt to show what I mean.

A multitude of memories suddenly pierced his mind in a rapid fire. One memory was in a school yard with a childhood friend "I will never leave you!" promised the friend. Another memory was in a garden with his dog. "Woof" yapped the dog. Another memory was in a train station with another woman. "Mind if I travel with you?" asked the woman.

I don't know what I am doing wrong, but it's yucky, and I think there's a better way to handle this in writing. I'm not sure how it's done usually. I could extend the sentences and put more flesh into them, but it wouldn't solve the problem and it would distract people from the main story branch.

I've seen it done in movies, but not in a novel.

  • this is based on a answer I got from one of my questions, (maybe this adds or maybe this adds nothing) (which is why I put it in a comment) do you think specific speech bubbles would do the job? (or similar) - ? Jan 17, 2023 at 10:19

1 Answer 1


My suggestion is to discard any attempts to isolate complete memories into sentences. Make long, run-on sentences with dozens of commas, and include fragments of things, because the human mind doesn't usually have time to completely process all of the thoughts completely, just the things that stand out most.

To put it into practice,

Suddenly it was all there, all of it, and he wasn't prepared to relive it all, a promise from a friend, a passing dogs bark, a question from a stranger. All at once he could hear them all, "I'll never leave you!" "Woof!" "Do you have the time..." In one second he was in all of these places, and a second later he was back

To point out what you were doing wrong, you said "Another memory was..." two more times than should have been said, which is to say at all. Repetition, unless to illustrate madness, or desperation, or comedic effect, or maybe sometimes even possibly sometimes madness, is not conventionally good style.


A multitude of memories suddenly pierced his mind in a rapid fire. He was in a school yard with a childhood friend, and he heard "I will never leave you!" before a moment later he was in a garden with his dog. She began to yap as the scene faded, and he was in the train station... Why did he remember this? He was just with another woman. She had just said "Mind if I travel with you?" and that was it, an ordinary interaction, but it stuck longer than the rest.

Sorry if I'm booing your quick writing, I know an example isn't always the best you can write. Hope this helps.

EDIT: This is a feeling that's hard to accurately depict, so why not just describe how it makes the person feel?

Suddenly he was in twelve places at once, hearing twelve different things, and it was too much for him in that one instant he was gone. It's all in your head, it's just a memory, but it wasn't just a memory, it felt so real, and then he was back, back where he was before, and he knew they were all just memories. He could still hear them, just faint echoes, but he was in his real world and he didn't want to follow them back.

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