What's Wrong with FlashbacksWritten by Catherine Rankovic
They come to fiction writing imprinted with "flashback" although "flashback" is supposedly an advanced fiction-writing technique. Flashback in beginning fiction is the equivalent of the downcased "i" in beginning poetry. It is a borrowed form of originality, and its reasoning is that "Other people do it."
I always give students this lecture hoping they won't waste their efforts on what I call the Barstool or Bathtub story. That's when you tack your character on a barstool and have him do nothing but think back on sordid past events. Don't show him thinking about sordid events. At least show him living the sordid events. Don't put your main character in the bathtub and keep her there while you describe her reveries or resentments. The reader, who reads a story wanting to enter a world where people do things, realizes early on that your character isn't going to do anything but sit, and is disappointed.
Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.
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