Flashbacks II: Where does the story begin?

Flashbacks in fiction have to be handled in a way that doesn’t interrupt the continuous and vivid fictional dream John Gardner described. How can you write the necessary info without disrupting the dream or letting the potatoes grow cold?
Writing Tip for Today: I’ve seen student work in which a rich and compelling back story was smothered by the real time story. The real time story was mostly about the adult going to a therapist to sort out the childhood. The most important thing is to ask yourself why the flashback/back story is vital to the reader in the first place. Are you trying to make your character more well-rounded? Are you giving the reader clues about the story? Or could the story as written begin at the wrong place?
The Inciting Incident is crucial, because it sets the story into motion. If you find you are more drawn to write about what happened before this incident, you may want to consider where the story truly begins. If your novel is about an adult character yet you write more passionately about that character’s childhood with a mean stepmother, you may be telling the wrong story. Try This! Take time to write some sketches from the POV of the adult as well as the child. Which version makes you more engaged?

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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