Do you like flashbacks in books? Or do you find they confuse a story?
Personally, I enjoy reading and writing flashbacks. Instead of writing a dialogue that
might seem tedious, flashbacks can provide active and vivid detail without cutting into the present day story.
Flashbacks can also build tension, provide psychological insights, and keep a reader guessing whom the flashback is actually about.
In my opinion, as long as the flashbacks serve a purpose to building background for the character, and gradually reveal who the flashbacks are about, then flashbacks can be a rather useful tool in a author’s arsenal.
In my books, I date the flashbacks so the reader gets an idea of the timeframe between past and present, and starts to connect the dots.
The flashbacks are designed to be part dreams, part of out-of-body experience in which you the reader are looking above at the scene.
The flashbacks have hints of who they are referring to, causing you to stop and think ‘hey, wait a minute, is this Annabella?”
Subtle hints are interwoven in the story connecting flashbacks to how Annabella ended up to where she is.
Although Initiated to Kill and my WIP The Legend Returns can be read as stand-alone, they are designed to be read as a series.
Annabella starts off as a somewhat scared naïve girl, frightened of confronting her past. Events in ITK lead her to develop into the person she is in TLR. Resourceful, without remorse (or so she tries), intent on brutally facing her past and causing its destruction.
Trained to suppress her emotions, everything is threatened to come undone when Andres Valero shows up in Romania.
Annnabella is a mix of a woman out for revenge, acting for the victims, while at the same time she must battle with how far she will go to achieve what she wants.
All the while facing an opponent whose motive threatens to reveal that Annabella was a pawn in a much larger game.
This is why flashbacks are so important. The second novel is set 6 years after the first. Flashbacks set up the crucial aspects that have lead to that point.
The true definition of a psychological thriller is to keep the reader on their toes, guessing the identity of people, theorizing the plot and motives, getting to understand the protagonist and antagonist, relating to them in some way. Even the protagonist pushes boundaries, doing things a ‘good’ person doesn’t do.
Conclusion. Not everyone likes flashbacks. However, in a story with multiple POVs flashbacks provide motive, builds up characters and suspense, and creates a deeper understanding to what has brought the character to the place they are now in.
I get a bit of critique how I use flashbacks, as some find it confusing. I debated at one point to put the flashbacks in first person; however, one of the purposes of my flashbacks is for the reader to start guessing who the person is. And I also link my flashbacks to the character I’m talking about by starting the chapter off with the flashbacks, then bringing that same character in to present day events.
I would love to hear your thoughts as either a reader or author if you like flashbacks, if you use them as a writer, and how you implement them into your story. 🙂