Literary Device: Back in time

Jump to Last Post 1-2 of 2 discussions (8 posts)
  1. gposchman profile image80
    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 image79
      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 image80
        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 image93
          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 image93
            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 image80
              gposchmanposted 3 years agoin reply to this

              Oh good, no pressure : )

  2. psycheskinner profile image82
    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 image80
      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..


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)