Posts Tagged With: Revolution

Should you Flashback?

Writers are often told to do this, don’t do that. Then someone comes along and tells them the opposite. One thing they are often told not to use are flashbacks. Author and publisher Jeff Gerke writes in The First 50 Pages:

But if your whole purpose for doing a flashback is to reveal backstory, it’s de facto telling. You’re still stopping the story (the main, present-day story) to explain something, and it’s probably something the reader doesn’t care about…Avoid flashbacks if you can.

I would normally agree. Flashbacks are often poorly used. In recent years, however, film and television have showed us how to seamlessly use flashbacks in storytelling. We owe much of that to Lost.

Flashbacks revealing the pasts of characters were integral to Lost‘s writing. The premise behind the technique was that we rarely ever start with a character at birth and see their whole life. We nearly always start in situ somewhere in their timeline.

Ever read a scene that is obviously trying to show something about a character that comes across forced? There’s often enough going on in the current story that the backstory will get the shaft or feel out of place. Flashbacks can solve this if — and pay attention to this if — they are fluid and seamless. The reader clearly knows, or soon will know, the time has changed. It must feel like the story hasn’t stopped or slowed. Your reader shouldn’t be jarred. Visually, on television, this is all a bit easier. Do you need to preface a flashback with a notation such as “6 years ago…” If you have to do that, the scene is probably not seamless enough or you’re not showing enough in your story. If you do that well, then trust your readers. Don’t be like films that subtitle “Washington, D.C.” over a shot of the Mall and its monuments.

So like many techniques, flashbacks can be done right or wrong. See how television has done it right so you won’t do it wrong.

Categories: Books, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Man’s Fascination with the End

We saw it around Y2K. The End was near. Now it’s 2012. I’m surprised this hasn’t reached 2012 proportions yet. Even if you didn’t fall for Y2K, or 2012 is just another year, many are still fascinated with fictional depictions of the End.

Perhaps it is because disasters bring out the best, and worst, in people. Such fiction becomes a look into the minds of men. They also become cautionary tales. Stories that tell us to be prepared and not go through life like zombies glued to our cellphones.

I recommended a few weeks ago One Second After. After an EMP attack is launched against the U.S., all the power goes out. Chaos ensues and one town tries to survive. All too real of a disaster. One that many say we are not prepared for. NBC’s new show Revolution depicts a similar event, though the exact details have yet to be revealed.

In Book of Eli, we see the world in the aftermath of some civilization. In the stark, wasted land, books are a prized possesion. Knowledge is at a premium. Think about that if all your references are electronic.

So we turn to fiction to learn. To be reminded about man’s nature. To be warned.

Are people listening?

Categories: Books, Fiction | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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