11

The reader needs a connection when transitioning into the flashback. That transition can be either external or internal. By external, I mean introducing the flashback. In this case, the reader knows who's in the flashback so you can use the then-current name without any more explanation. For example: As he drifted off to sleep, Bob recalled the first time ...


10

Historical re-enactors share your problem. Here are some of the things we do: Read history books, sure, but sometimes it's the museum catalogs that show everything from art to architecture to everyday kitchenware that really help. History books will tend to give you a good view of events, but they're not always so good for daily-life stuff. Then ask ...


7

The important question is not whether it is common, but whether it works for your story. It is certainly not "wrong". Flashbacks in general are certainly common enough that the technique of itself is not going to confuse readers. I don't think there's any particular expectation that flashbacks must come in order, so that coming out of order would be ...


7

That's tough, it sounds like a hundred page wall of dialogue to me. To eliminate most of it, I'd resort to flashback. Flashbacks are not that popular anymore; but they would be better than an endless wall of dialogue or thoughts. For flashback, write the recollection as a story, with a neutral narrator, third person omniscient limited, focused on the ...


6

There are many ways to research a location and a time: Books, the internet, even satellite photos and Google Street View. (Not really relevant for this project, but I've fixed some pretty basic errors with those.) However, when the place in question is interesting, you need to make sure that your research is actually relevant to the novel. When you're ...


6

Depending on how you want to play that, both ways are viable. You could explicity tell that the character hadn't a name then: Ai remembered when the fire nation attacked. Of course, she hadn't the luxury of having a name back then. Living as a scrawny little street-urchin, there were very few people who cared enough to speak to her, and most did with "...


5

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.


5

SIDENOTE: Most writers seem to agree that writing the backstory for yourself is important, and this can be an important first step toward the goal you've expressed here. I encourage you to write those backstory scenes for yourself. You say that your characters are all involved in an event, but separately from each other, and that it is backstory--happened ...


5

If you're writing from the patient's POV, it's probably easier. You can show the patient's unfiltered reactions and thoughts to the doctor's questions before writing the patient's answer. "So, when was the first time that happened?" "A month ago," he said automatically. The doctor made a note and he frowned, the confidence of a moment ...


5

Because it's such a dramatic moment, it feels like a wasted opportunity to leave it entirely "off-camera." But it doesn't necessarily make sense to start your story there if the main action is going to take place after a gap in time. I'd suggest that you start your story right before the action begins, and then bring in the backstory as needed and ...


4

Following the usual advice to “Write what you know”, you would set the project aside and write about things you know now. But in the meanwhile, you could • obtain and study books, maps, or films about the area, • strike up a correspondence with people in the area, • advertise locally to meet people from the area, • make plans to visit the area. If you meet ...


4

The answer to any non-traditional story pattern is... it depends. Why do you want to adopt this format? Most stories are written in a straight-forward chronological order because this is how we normally experience events and it is what the readers expect. It can be jarring as a reader to learn at the end of the story some basic fact everyone in the story ...


4

I think the important question is not whether this qualifies as a "flashback" by some technical definition, but rather whether you make it clear to the reader what is going on. I've occasionally read books where there was a flashback and I was well into it before I realized it was a flashback. I started getting confused, saying to myself, "Wait, I thought ...


4

There's nothing inherently wrong with having a conceptual sequence rather than a chronological one. The important point is that you have some really clear signposting so the reader doesn't get confused. In a book you can have little titles telling people when things happened. e.g. Oregon, May 1986 | Portland, Nov 1991 etc. Some people tend to blank over ...


4

Flashbacks are fine and used all the time. In film in particular, this is part of "show don't tell" the story, and what that phrase originally meant: Anything you want to say, try to put in action and scene instead of dialogue. Just this last year I must have seen half a dozen shows that begin with somebody saying (essentially) "This is what happened..." ...


4

According to http://www.storysense.com/format/flashbacks.htm, you should bookend it with "BEGIN FLASHBACK" and "END FLASHBACK" as action lines, and then treat it as any other new scene, even if it is the same location. Changing tense is not necessary. BEGIN FLASHBACK INT - ROGER'S HOUSE (1980) - NIGHT [flashback scene] END FLASHBACK INT ...


4

You can't have your cake and eat it too. I don't think your opening is in media res if it's cut with exposition flashbacks and the conflict hasn't started yet. To me that sounds like the opposite of in media res. Diverting away from the main conflict for any reason breaks in media res. Making assumptions by reading between the lines, I perceive the ...


4

Third person within viewpoint is not omniscient, but limited to the viewpoint character. I'll tackle a few of the types of flashbacks you've mentioned, but first will add in my personal favorite, which you didn't mention. Narrative weaving. I'll bold the backstory below: "You can't be serious." Her mother had always said to beware of boys from the ...


4

A crucial question: does the psychiatrist contribute anything to the story, or is he mainly the setting, the excuse as it where, for your protagonist to tell the story? If the psychiatrist makes no meaningful contribution, you can have considerable chunks of your story in first-person narration, no interruptions by the psychiatrist. Let the readers all but ...


4

For me, the key questions are: who is telling the story; when are they telling the story, and why are they telling the story. If I know the answers to those questions, then I can work on what the narrator knows and when they know it. This narrator is a stand in for the reader. They control what we see and when we see it (and a lot more as well). I think of ...


3

Interesting question. Here's my take: Dialogue "So in ninety-one, I was following the Grateful Dead around the country. I swear, the last two minutes of 'Black-Throated Wind' from that MSG show was one of the highlights of human history." Third-person omniscient information dump Fans of the musical band the Grateful Dead widely regard their show from 9/...


3

Read their newspapers. There are a surprising number of local newspapers that have been lovingly uploaded by now that can provide a real insight into life in former times.


3

In principle, if it doesn't matter, if the idea is just that this happened sometime in the past, then you don't need to bog the story down with details about exactly when. I certainly wouldn't go into some long description if it doesn't matter. I mean, I wouldn't say, "In the third year after she graduated college, on the tenth of June, at 3:15 in the ...


3

I don't see a problem with what you have done. Flashbacks (like any literary device) can be implemented in many different ways. Some authors prefer to simply tell the flashbacks as you mentioned, but I assure you that that does not necessarily establish an implicit norm. I have read many texts and short stories that have dialogues in flashbacks. In your ...


3

You have two things going on: a flashback from the main narrative, and a dream. If the dream is taking place in the past, that may be a literal flashing-back, but it's not actually a flashback. A flashback is reliable (in the sense of "reliable narrator"), realistic, and a memory of someone. It's a detour from the forward narrative. A dream, on the other ...


3

Two Things To Focus On There are two things that come to play here: In Media Res : In the middle of the action What Is Your Actual Story? In Media Res As I'm sure you know, In Media Res is the idea that to draw the reader in you must start right in the middle of the action. Readers don't want to sit through 50 pages of backstory to get to the story. ...


3

I can think of at least two detective shows - Without A Trace and Cold Case - that do this multiple times per episode, as part of their general structure. As long as it's made clear that it's a flashback (for example, a fade-to-white transition before and afterwards), I don't see any problem with you doing this.


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