Friday 10 December 2010


Flashback, and foreshadowing, play with narrative time. 
A good flashback:
  • weaves complex themes into the plot
  • creates sympathy for the worst of characters (Professor Snape)
  • confirms why we were right to despise them (Voldemort)

Flashbacks in flashback have more cyclonic action than a Dyson – no reader want to be sucked into one of those.
Convenient flashbacks, the ones enabling you to include the non-dynamic scene you pictured as your opening - the one any literary agents’ eye would glaze over - should be avoided. Every flashback must contain essential information or it will slow down the action but contain nothing that propels the readers’ understanding forward.
There are ways to avoid the flashback technique:
  1. Dialogue
  2. Narration
  3. Dropping in details

Inference is a powerful tool: with a word or a look, a lot can be implied. Sometimes you have to trust your reader to do the thinking. Engage their empathy and intuition. Supply just enough information, at the right moment, to balance the needs of the plot and your characterisation.
Do you have a favourite writing technique
Flashback or foreshadowing? 
I avoid the first and am addicted to the second. 
My advice for my favourite technique is to watch out for being too subtle or the  foreshadowing will be smudged over in the reading. ;)

On a serious note:

How can this be the twenty-first century when Steven Neary can be treated with such appalling insensitivity, cruelty and permanency? 

Steven Neary has effectively been imprisoned for being autistic This cannot be allowed.

Please read this account of his treatment. Spare a few minutes. Do more than CRY. 
Sign and see if, together, we can make a difference. Robbers, thieves and those who have killed through reckless driving have served less time.


  1. Hi. Just popped in to see how your writing of fiction is going? Are you getting some good time in?

  2. Hi Ivy - some and some. Roll on the weekend ;)

  3. What's your favorite time to write? I rather enjoy the early mornings, first thing. My new work schedule doesn't permit that, so now I make the most of the time I do have.

    But I still rather fancy the mornings, the best.

  4. And with my new schedule, I do still get some mornings home to write, which is nice.

  5. Re Stephen, I have blogged and tweeted and will e-mail to everyone I can think of.

  6. Hi Ivy.
    I writing late into the night. As you can see.;)

    Thanks Dominic - I always wondered what the worst case scenario could be. I'm lucky I've got this year to train people to get used to my son's ways. Transition is a rocky road, better for him to travel it now. Steven's story made me soooo sad I had to edit. No joy needed for editing.

  7. Oh, I'm sorry, I never look at dates and times of posts and comments, so I missed that. Hope you got some good work done. I had the day off from both jobs, got to hang out in my robe, eat take away and watch Netflix. Very relaxing day.

    Back to the manuscript on Monday.

  8. I love foreshadowing, since it can be done without beating the reader over his/her head with it. They only realize what it was at the end...

    As supposed to flashbacks, that tends to fall into telling instead of showing, for me.

  9. Hi Misha
    If the information is essential is will drip through, right :)
    Foreshadowing is the most subtle forms of clues, I think it is the reason I read most books twice.

  10. Foreshadowing is a fun tool. I have a flashback scene in my current wip - but it's not the beginning - about a third of the way in. I'm hoping it'll work. :)

  11. Hi Jemi
    Hope you are pleased with your flashback section. They can be really effective.
    They say control of time - including flashback - is a level 5 skill: a good Y6 (11 year-old) is expected to use it when writing. ;)