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Literary Device: Back in time

  1. gposchman profile image85
    gposchmanposted 3 years ago

    Some brief background first.

    I am writing a series of detective novels circa 1930s and 40s ( Jonas Watcher, I have 6 books outlined so far) . I am working on the second, but a plot element occurred to me for the fourth book while I was fixing my wife some breakfast. I was thinking about a MASH episode when Hawkeye and BJ were trying to keep a soldier alive so he wouldn't have died on Christmas day. In the end the soldier dies a little before midnight, and either Hawkeye or BJ set the clock to read after midnight, falsifying the time of death.

    I extrapolated on the idea a bit and the plot element began to solidify, but the problem arose for me that I would need to incorporate a flash back. I have heard the pros and cons of using flash backs, but this is one time in the story telling that I am sure I can make it work. Here are my issues...

    I write in the first person, I like taking on the persona of Jonas Watcher. The flash back to be told properly will take a chapter. Do I do the flash back as a preface, eliminating the "flash back"  all together, end the chapter before the flash back, use the chapter as the device for the flash back, or ...

    Any and all thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Gene Poschman

    1. Reynold Jay profile image80
      Reynold Jayposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      If this were me, I would simply write it and place it exactly where I think it belongs and give it no more thought than that. As to whether it is a separate chapter can be looked at later. I do flashbacks all the time and they enrich the reading experience for the reader. Reading can be dull without a back story interrupting the pace.

      1. gposchman profile image85
        gposchmanposted 3 years agoin reply to this

        Hi Reynold Jay,
        Thank you for your response, my initial plan was to go in that direction, and as I am just now finishing book 2, I have some time mull over how to do it. I have heard arguments going both ways in the past, but I use to be one of those who was taught to double space after a period, and now I understand doing so is considered amateurish.

        I may be over thinking it but I thought it would be good to get others perspective

        1. Phyllis Doyle profile image97
          Phyllis Doyleposted 3 years agoin reply to this

          I agree with Reynold Jay.  I use flashbacks often in different stories. I have three books in progress and find flashbacks can break up some quiet times in the story that might otherwise become boring. I want to keep my readers alert, not put them to sleep.

          In one chapter of one of my books, I write in the first person and my character goes back in time when she sits down in a rocker in her childhood room and drifts off to sleep. A flashback like this can be done in first or third person authoring.

          Seems like you have a good series you are working on. Best wishes for success.

          1. Phyllis Doyle profile image97
            Phyllis Doyleposted 3 years agoin reply to this

            PS: I forgot to add that a flashback as a separate chapter can be powerful and give that "BAM - GOTCHA" effect on a reader if it is done right.

            1. gposchman profile image85
              gposchmanposted 3 years agoin reply to this

              Oh good, no pressure : )

  2. psycheskinner profile image83
    psycheskinnerposted 3 years ago

    I think that you just need to set up that is is a memory with a line in past perfect tense and then write the scene.  if it is a very extensive scene, 5 pages or more, it might do best as a separate chapter.

    1. gposchman profile image85
      gposchmanposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you for your reply. It will be a separate chapter because there is an extensive story in order to  provide sufficient information as not to confuse the reader. My initial problem was how best to integrate it. I was concerned about disrupting story flow, but I think Reynold Jay has the right of it, and I should just insert it where if fits within my story telling..