Flashbacks: A Key to Backstories

“Surely you remember me.”

It doesn’t take much to trigger those scenes. Those flashbacks that close the holes of confusion, of forgotten times, of the puzzles in life. A mysterious character appears in the scene, only to be discovered as someone now remembered from long ago. The death of a comrade brings about a remembrance of another death of a loved one years past. Even a rainy day may remind the characters of a similar day that had a great significance in their lives.

Personally, I love flashbacks. The biggest reason I love these scenes is because my greatest interest in books is deep backstories of the characters. And one of my favorite ways of telling backstories is, you guessed it, flashbacks.

So, what are some good ways of weaving flashbacks into your stories?

Still looking at the field, she thought she started to see and hear things. Distant screams echoed into her ear and blood filled her vision. Yet nothing was there.

One of my favorite ways is to induce drama that triggers the flashback. Some horrible nightmare, the sight of someone dying, lightning striking upon the ground—all of which can be used to bring on a memory of past times.

In a story I wrote last year I have a character that had forgotten her past. As the story moves on, things such as these bring about strange memories to her mind, until finally they all collide and her memory returns. It was a fun way of telling the story and really building the person’s character as she tries to wave through the confusion in life and fight through the unanswered questions that are always tormenting her mind.

Slowly dozing out of wakefulness, familiar images painted onto her unconscious mind.

Another way to introduce flashbacks is dreams. Personally, this is not my favorite way of going about it, because, let’s face it, in real life we are not constantly dreaming vividly about things that happened in our past. Giant flying fish and zombie apocalypses is more what you might find in your dreams (or is that just me?). Plus, this form of playing out scenes in the past is a bit too cliché for my taste. But still, if you desperately need a flashback scene and cannot think of any other way of doing it, dreams can certainly get the job done.

So many questions left unanswered…

A really interesting form of flashbacks is weaving them into a story where the flashbacks make a sub story themselves that leaves the readers (and possibly characters) with many questions. Then, in the end, the flashback sub story connects with the main story, solving all those perplexing puzzles. It is a good way to keep readers’ interest as they try to connect the two stories and put that puzzle together.

There are all sorts of creative ways to add flashback scenes into your story. A touch of drama, an interesting tidbit of backstory, a mystifying riddle. Flashbacks have many purposes in stories. They are sometimes the perfect tool to use to fill up that plot hole or sneak in an important scene that will not fit anywhere else.

As long as they are significant to the story, I say do not hesitate to occasionally use a flashback scene now and again.

And then she remembered.

-Lauriloth

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About Christine

A 20-something avid reader, crazy writer, striver of uniqueness, lover of all things fantasy, enjoyer of the whimsy, and follower of Jesus Christ. View all posts by Christine

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