Tip Tuesday Round Up: Background and flashbacks
Get your character backstory straight with these flashback writing tips!
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I love flashbacks. A lot. When I first started RPing I'd stick them everywhere and anywhere without a goddamn care. lol
I've grown out of that, thankfully, but not before it became an in-joke between me and my co-GM. We once competed to see who could stick more flashbacks in one single post. I won. I'm both proud and profoundly ashamed of that feat.
That said, for Shadows Rise I was extremely reluctant to use flashbacks at all. The whole story is already backstory for a lot of characters and I couldn't find any non-disruptive way of giving more background on the Wolf Hunters and a few other characters. And then a friend of mine suggested I do one or two chapter in-between episodes that are entirely backstory. You know, like how some TV shows will do flashback episodes? Like that. I liked that idea so that's what I decided to do. :)
@Blackbird Before all of my revisions to my timeline and plotlines, Episode 4 was going to be a flashback episode to ~10-15 years before the novel starts because the original original idea took place about that long ago in the characters lives, and I was disappointed I didn't get to explore any of it except through offhand references. The idea was that if TV shows could have a random episode that was set in the past, then so could I! Unfortunately, finding a place for it that isn't super disruptive is problematic. On the same hand, it's the only place for a break from DEEP DARK SERIOUSNESS AND PAIN.
I think flashbacks can be good when in moderation. The one book I can think of that did them well is This Is Where It Ends (i forget the author, but it's the book with the chalk being blown up with a black background as a cover), and all of the flashbacks were told as they were relevant to what was going on in-story.
TL;DR: I agree with your friend. XD
(Also, that is hilarious. I can barely do flashbacks. The very best flashbacks are typically offhand references to the memory. :P)
@typical_demigod When I was a youngling I had this notion that people only dream in flashbacks. lol
Those were the days. :P
Y'know... There is this writer I know through WordPress; Steven Baird. He asked me to review his book, gave me a copy and everything. And the entire book is a dying man relieving his life in his mind. It's an incredibly confusing book in the sense that the way it's written shouldn't work, but it kinda does. It's a pretty great book. Ordinary Handsome. Not a happy story, but pretty good.
@Blackbird The way dreams are shown in fiction, you'd think that's how it works lol
I've had an idea about doing something like that, but I'm never quite sure how I would do it because something like that is something that would be more character-driven than plot-driven, and I've never been able to stick to a story if wasn't plot-driven, even if I love the characters to death. :/ It's so cool that he was able to do that, though. ^_^
@typical_demigod I think my favorite use of flashbacks in my own writing was in Shadows of The Past when Crys 'died'. She doesn't actually die, she gets rescued in time (barely), but I wrote it as a death scene. It's one of the few flashback-heavy scenes I want to keep in the rewrites (with a couple flashbacks less, but still).
I don't like the whole 'life passing before my eyes' trope, but I do like Crys remembering her mother and her training in that moment while she's bleeding out in the dirt and trying to cling to consciousness. I think it's a moment of understanding for her; all the little ways her mom did influence who she is and her will to fight and survive.