To Flashback or not to Flashback.

Image by Darren Tunnicliff

Image by Darren Tunnicliff

My most recent get together with my writers’ group has left me with a question. I placed 2 paragraphs of my novel in for critique and as always, received some valuable and constructive feedback. One of my paragraphs however, reverts back to a previous time in the history of my protagonist. This raised the topic that some readers dislike the use of flashbacks. Now, I know there is a school of thought that says, flashbacks – don’t do them! But what I am really interested to find out is if anyone out there likes flashbacks. I ask because I know a few people who like to have questions unanswered, only to find them explained later by means of a flashback or some other method. Is it only a small percentage that dislike flashbacks? or is it the majority?

What is your opinion? To Flashback or not to flashback?



4 thoughts on “To Flashback or not to Flashback.

  1. I say go where your story needs to go. I find a lot of people say they don’t like flashbacks, because that is apparently the ‘in thing’ of writing at the moment not to do them. It has nothing to do whether they like them or not as a person.

    When it comes to reading, I bet people don’t even notice. I enjoy flashbacks personally, I think it gives a quick and great way to get a sense of the character and more depth into the story 🙂


    • Thanks for the comment Mishka, I guess that’s what I am trying to find out. Do readers really mind? or is it just that writers are told not to do it? I don’t have a problem with it, and I know others that aren’t bothered.


  2. Aloha Allen,

    I feel that flashbacks are just another tool in the writer’s toolbox. However, it is a tool with a price attached – flashbacks always jolt the reader. This price can be mitigated somewhat by carefully introducing the flashback and clearly concluding it, but the price is always there. Flashback should only be considered if the content ‘shows’ something that clearly adds to the story.

    Great image – thumbs up to Darren.

    A Hui Hou,


    • Thanks Wayne, I agree, you need a clear start and a clear finish. It is like anything really, if you don’t do it right, people won’t like it. That goes for dialogue, plot, character traits, etc…So I guess that leads to another question. Do people only dislike them when they are not done well?


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