Writing Exercise: Flashback

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Providing backstory is a constant challenge to writers. Sometimes the bits in pieces dropped in during dialog and narrative are not enough. How can one deliver a huge chunk of backstory without bogging the story down? Because that is usually what happens, a huge exposition dump of the “history” is delivered in a tell-not-show fashion killing momentum.

One of the ways to work around this is deliver the backstory in an action-narrative format similar to the rest of the manuscript via a flashback. The problem with that is the transitions between the flashback and narrative aren’t smooth.

WRITING EXERCISE: Attempt to create the transition for a flashback, including the transition back into the story. Don’t write the flashback or the story, just the transition bits.


My attempt

“Oh, you want to know what happened.” She drew her foot back and forth on the ground looking pensive. “It all started at the library…”


Darkness swallowed the library entrance. Yeah, going in was stupid, but I was fifteen, the definition of stupid.

(fill in the blank)

The bodies dissolved and the smoke settled as we sisters looked at each other in our living room, gasping for breath.


“…and fortunately the blood washed out of the carpet before the parents got home from their date night.” She smiled. “Everyone was in bed, teeth brushed, so no harm, no foul, right?”

(first published 10/24/2015; republished new blog format 11/26/2019)