Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Flashbacks? Some Do's and Don'ts

By: Karen Albright Lin

I’m teaching an on-line class for RMFW University.  The subject is writing effective flashbacks. So backstory presented in scenes has been on my mind. Here are a few quick reminders about the dos and don’ts of writing flashbacks.


- Use only when insight is necessary to fill in gaps.

- Be sure you are clear about what you are trying to accomplish within a given scene.

- Make careful choices about what to reveal and what to leave out.

- Make it riveting. But if it is more interesting than the current day story, perhaps it is the story you mean to tell.

- Use it to clarify how a world works.

- Use it following an action-filled strong scene.  Then it can act like a sequel if it isn’t
Equally riveting as what just came before it.

- Use when connected to present action.

- Use when reader wants to know more about past.

- Keep it short.

- Dole out pieces of information in bits and pieces – this creates mystery and makes reader want to read on to learn more.


Stay in a flashback too long. Better to give bits over time if a lot needs to be conveyed

Don’t leave characters dangling while we go in the past. Connect to current action.

About the Author: 

About the Author: Karen is an editor, ghostwriter, pitch coach, speaker and award-winning author of novels, cookbooks, and screenplays. She’s written over a dozen solo and collaborative scripts (with Janet Fogg, Christian Lyons and director Erich Toll); each has garnered international, national and regional recognition: Moondance Film Festival, BlueCat, All She Wrote, Lighthouse Writers, Boulder Asian Film Festival, SouthWest Writers Contest, and PPW Contest. Find out more at

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