The 3 Dos and Don’ts of Writing Flashbacks

Flashbacks seemed to have become more and more popular in writing. Instead of telling a story, many young authors use flashbacks to show what happened. However, most of the time they’re done wrong. So, without further adue, here are some Dos and Don’ts for flashbacks.

DO: Use regular text
Many writers put all of their flashbacks in bold or italics for some reason. This shouldn’t be the case. All flashbacks can go in regular text.

DON’T: Put rediculous things in the middle of the text
All to often I’ve seen readers tell a story, then cut out and use things like FLASHBACK and END OF FLASHBACK.

DO: Incorporate the flashback into the current text
Flashbacks aren’t meant to take readers out of the action. Flow with them right into the story. Here is one example:

I sat and looked out the window, images of us together in the back of my mind. When we got together is was a warm, June day. I was reading a magazine in Plant Park when all of a sudden, this sweaty man with the curliest hair I’ve ever seen went jogging past…

DON’T: Put a flashback in the first chapter
Terrible idea. Why would you want to take your readers out of the action by telling them a story about the past?

DO: Save flashbacks for the second chapter
Second chapters are meant for backstory and getting to know your characters better. The perfect place for flashbacks.

DON’T: Suddenly time travel
All too often I’ve been reading a chapter and I suddenly see something like “Six years ago:” and then a different story. Again, incorporate this into the text.

Six years ago today, I was walking alone at night on Cass Street when a homeless man approached me…

With these tips, hopefully now everyone will be writing flashbacks a bit better.

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