I happen to like flashbacks if they aren't too obscure. That's a good thing, because my newest WIP is going to require it. The problem is that obscurity thing; I want each flashback to clarify the overall plot, not make the reader crazy with extraneous detail.

I wrote the first few chapters, which take place in the now, setting up the premise, introducing the characters, and establishing the hook. Now it's time to start feeding the reader bits and pieces of the protag's past so we understand her eccentricities a little better. That took a weekend of thought, and here's what I decided to do.

I wrote the whole thing, all the flashback stuff, as one piece. Now that it's there, with everything the reader will need to know at the end, I can look at how it can be broken up to provide interesting, hopefully intriguing, peeks into her character. And as I go on with the Nowstory, I will be able to see where events allow, or even call for, explanation through flashback.

Of course it will require smoothing once it's done, making sure the details are there but not too obvious. It's kind of exciting to put it all together so it works for me. Hope it works for readers, too.

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Comment by Jon Loomis on April 6, 2009 at 11:44pm
I did something similar in both of mine--getting at the past through dream fragments. I think the key is to keep each flashback break short and punchy--stuff has to happen--and to set them apart with white space and maybe even italics.

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