[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]No, wait. Not Flashdance. Flashback. Although some of you may have had a flashback when I said Flashdance. Ugh, I’m talking in circles already; time for coffee. I turned the pot on an hour ago, but the funniest thing happened…

See what I did there? Used the present as an intro to the past rather than telling a story in chronological order. That’s our nonfiction technique this month: the flashback.

A flashback is a storytelling device that inserts a scene that took place earlier chronologically into a later part of the story. If you’ve seen Memento, Titanic, or Up, you’re familiar with flashbacks already.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”26685″ alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_outline”][vc_column_text]

One way to use flashbacks is to give some insight into why a character is behaving in a certain way. These flashbacks are usually brief, just a phrase or two of memory inserted into the story before the character goes on to take the action that was motivated or shaped by the past.

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The other way to use flashbacks is to have the present, rather than the past, be brief. Use a modern anchor like a Christmas ornament to set up a childhood memory, or describe driving your son to university to start a tale about your own collegiate debauchery. Just don’t forget to end your story at the same part of the timeline that you began it. That is, if your first paragraph takes place this morning, your last paragraph should, too – no matter when the middle of your story is set.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Whether you use the past to inform the present, or the present to anchor the past, flashbacks are a useful way to make sure your readers connect with stories and ideas. You can tell an adult a child’s story much more easily if you set it up with the words and thoughts of the adult the child grew into.

Flashbacks are also a less-preachy way to tell the reader what you learned from the incident you’re describing, or a fun way to set up a modern-day pun or joke. Guess you had to be there? With a flashback, your reader can be.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]