Writing Fiction Made Easier: 2 Tips For Using Flashbacks

Writing Fiction Made Easier: 2 Tips For Using Flashbacks

If you’re writing fiction, sooner or later someone will tell you that your flashbacks are unnecessary — they’re ruining your novel. That’s because your flashbacks bring your story to a halt. They kill the pace of your novel, and you lose readers.

Readers just want to know what happens next. They don’t care what happened in the past.

Writing fiction and want to use flashbacks? Don’t.

I can hear you thinking, “yes, but readers need to know…”

They don’t.

Trust readers to figure it out. A great slab of backstory/ flashback disorients readers and stops them reading. They’ll never come back.

Here are a couple of tips for using flashbacks without losing readers.

1. Keep all flashbacks super-short: integrate them into your story

You can do a lot with a single sentence: “she remembered that they’d rarely quarreled, but now they raged at each other.”

Alternatively, you can integrate a flashback into a scene, so your story keeps its forward momentum.

The first line of a scene: “He’s left me.”

Naturally, the other person in the scene wants to know what happened. When did he leave? Why? Readers will have the same questions; this helps you to integrate a flashback.

2. If flashbacks are essential: feature them

What if you truly need flashbacks, and don’t want to cut them from your novel?

Feature them. Use a “now, and then” technique. Many novels are written this way. Your story begins in the present day. The next chapter begins “20 years ago.” Keep alternating time spans: present day, and the past.

Alternatively, use a different viewpoint character for your “then” chapters. In essence, you have parallel plots: the present, and the past.

Both plots keep their forward momentum. Done well, this technique builds suspense, and keeps readers reading.

Here’s another technique for featuring your flashbacks. Use a diary or newspaper stories to reveal what happened in the past. Start a scene with a diary entry, or create an entire (short) chapter from a newspaper story. This can build suspense too.

Check your current work in progress for flashbacks

If you find that you’re studding your current novel with flashbacks, consider that they may be killing your novel’s pace. Can you integrate the flashbacks in short sentences, or paragraphs?

If you absolutely need them, try making them a feature of your novel. This can work in many genres: romance, mysteries, thrillers, and fantasy too.

Flashbacks can enhance your novel, and can make writing fiction more fun too. 🙂

Time Travel Regency Romance Trilogy
Tara’s Enchantment – Regency Time Travel Romance, Book 1

Tara’s Enchantment – Regency Time Travel Romance, Book 1

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A Regency time travel romance... What if you could escape across time, and find your soulmate?

Pure evil dispatches gorgeous Tara Ballantine across the centuries, to Regency England. Tara lands on Adam Jervoise, Earl of Hillingworth -- literally -- as he's riding through a bluebell wood.

Hillingworth is handsome, rich, and kind. He's also set to propose to an heiress.

When Tara realizes that she's falling in love with the earl, she fights the feeling.

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Molly’s Magic – Regency Time Travel Romance, Book 2

Molly’s Magic – Regency Time Travel Romance, Book 2

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At 24, not only is Molly Ballantine stunning, she has two sisters she loves, and a wonderful career. Then her eldest sister Tara vanishes, and her life disintegrates.

Molly's life is about to become even more chaotic. She wakes up in a brothel with a man who's too good-looking for her peace of mind.

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Priscilla’s Destiny: Regency Time Travel Romance, Book 3

Priscilla’s Destiny: Regency Time Travel Romance, Book 3

22-year-old Priscilla Ballantine wakes up 200 years in the past, naked in the arms of handsome aristocrat, and master spy, Dominick de Roche, Lord Bellemieux. Priscilla's accused of spying, and is in danger of summary execution. She can't help thinking that she wouldn't be in such a mess if Dominick de Roche hadn't mistaken her for one of his contacts...

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Escape Across Time: Tara, Molly, & Priscilla (Time Travel Regency Romance Trilogy)
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