Flashbacks and Foreshadowing
by Sandy Tritt
Flashbacks and foreshadowing are tools we have to add
dimension to our writing. Flashbacks give us the ability to see into a
character's past in real time.
Foreshadowing drops hints of what may happen in
the future. Are either one required in order to tell an effective story?
No. However, there are times when they can add depth to our characters or
suspense to our plot, and trust me, we can use whatever help we can get.
Flashbacks interrupt the current action of the story to
show a scene from the past. As such, we must always weigh the advantages
to the disadvantages. Are the benefits we receive worth leaving our
characters dangling in time while we go into the past? If so, don't
hesitate to use a flashback. If not, continue with your story line and
find other ways, such as exposition, discussion, etc. to entwine the past
with the present.
If you choose to use a flashback, you must tip the
reader that you are leaving the present. This can be done with a
transition statement such as, "John remembered the day his father died."
Then, use past perfect ("had") two or three times to complete the clue
that we are entering real time in the past. And you are in the past. Act
out your scene with action and dialogue, and when you are finished, clue
the reader that you are returning to the present by using past perfect
once or twice, and, if necessary, another transition sentence ("But that
was then and this was now, and John had to let the past stay in the
past."). Here is an example:
Danny remembered more about his mother's death than
he'd ever told anyone. The day she had died, she had called
each of her sons to her bedside individually.
"Pour me a cup of fresh water, please," she said, her
voice thick with the Polish accent that decorated her words when she was
tired or sick.
Danny filled the cup, careful not to splash it on the
"Now, hand me my lipstick."
But he didn't leave. He stood in the doorway and
had watched as she had swallowed the pills, three at a time,
until they were gone.
Even now, Danny felt responsible for her death. He
looked at his father and swallowed hard . . .
Note that once we entered the flashback, we stopped
using past perfect ("had") and just acted out the story. Otherwise, the "hads"
weigh down the prose and suck the action out of the words.
Foreshadowing is even easier to use. It usually consists
of only one or two sentences, and is especially effective when ending a
scene or chapter. An example of foreshadowing:
Sam wished he could rid himself of the sick feeling
in his gut that told him something terrible was going to happen, and
Study what works in fiction you admire. Notice the tools
the author uses to enter the past or foretell the future. Unless you are a
writer, these techniques should appear invisible and smooth. But as a
writer, you must learn to use these techniques to add punch to your own
work. Good luck.
(c) copyright 1999 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. June be reproduced for educational purposes
(such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the
url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in
conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
- First ten pages free, and, for a limited time, all additional pages at
$2.75 per page (regular price, $3.50 per page). Just mention Publishing
New Writers Newsletter (June, 2002).
- Critiques by Sandy Tritt
- Unlike most editors, I consider my role to be a mentor or a coach.
Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I explain how to correct the
problem, and I work with you to teach you how to write effective prose.
More than 50% of my business is repeat business, and I relish
establishing long-term relationships with other writers.
- Treat you with respect and compassion. All criticism will be of the
"constructive" sort. My purpose is to improve your writing, not to
destroy your confidence.
- Mark your manuscript, correcting grammatical and spelling errors and
suggesting alternative wording where appropriate, line-by-line.
- Highlight areas that are especially well-written, so you will know
where your strengths are.
- Where appropriate, offer suggestions for plot development, character
development or other areas that could be strengthened.
- Return a two-to-four page written analysis of your work. This will
include evaluation of: plot, setting, characterization, dialogue,
special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks, etc.), voice, point of view
and any other areas particular to your work.
- If appropriate, recommend reading or resources to strengthen your
areas of weakness.
- Answer any questions you June have via email.
- Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at email@example.com
(See Sandy's article above.)
Lynette's creative Writing Website
(type both lines in one)
Go Back in Time!...
our new all - immersion Life of Jesus (Part 1) from David C. Cook
III. You'll become a true believer. Visit...
is dedicated to the memory of David C. Cook III.
This Just In – From Paul the Apostle
By Kurt Schuller
inspired work recreating
Comments about Being Published for
the First Time
by Jim Colombo
It is very gratifying when you get
published for the first time. It
confirms your belief that you wrote
something of merit. It is your reward
for being stubborn when you received a
rejection and sent a query the next
day to maintain the hope that the next
query will be accepted.
Imagine sending queries to agents
to sell your manuscript and the thrill
of signing a contract with a publisher
and only a few buy the book.
Each time I walk into Barnes and
Nobles I walk by the discount book
section that is graveyard for dreams
of published authors.
I ask myself why do so many chase a
dream that few catch. Writing is a
lonely, frustrating, and a challenging
endeavor. It will test your belief
that you can write. It will be one of the most rewarding experiences you
will have when you become confirmed as
a Published Author.
Enjoy the journey
rather than the dream of success. It
is an education about self, life, and
sharing your experiences. Writing lets
you jump into the tree hollow like
Alice and explore new worlds. Enjoy
the trip. JPC
by Bruce Cook, Editor
This month we launched a new service in
reader feedback - an opinion survey.
Those authors willing to share the cost
can arrange for readers to comment on
opening, language, plot,
conclusion, credibility, unity, detail,
balance, and strong and weak points of
When you post an AuthorMe writer
survey for your manuscript, we place a
link to the survey above the text. We
then provide a private,
password protected link enabling you see
view survey results - a summary as well
as individual responses (including
email addresses of respondents who are
willing to enter that information.)
Note: Due to high costs of this service,
AuthorMe is compelled to ask that
authors listing surveys make a payment
of $10 to $15 dollars. To qualify for
the lower price, you are asked to
complete at least five surveys for other
explore our survey service, please go
A Comment from An Author Who used Our
"I remain thoroughly pleased about the feedback/kudos I received from a cross section of your
readers who read 'Spring Fever.'
"Surprised 'Spring Fever' had
that effect on those outside of my circle of friends who tend to like
everything I write, though they do give me honest feedback, etc.
Your survey gave me more insight of how others outside my circle of
friends perceive my work and in what areas need improvement, all of
which will help me to continue to polish my writing. The survey: AN
INVALUABLE SERVICE and USEFUL TOOL FOR ANY WRITER!
This is Dianne Ochiltree's
site for children, parents,
teachers and writers for
young readers. Dianne is an
author of books for young
readers (birth to teenage)
and she is also a children's
book reviewer. She's been
writing professionally for
over 25 years---about 18
years in public
and the last 7 years as a
children's writer. Dianne
has two books published to
date, with Scholastic and
with Simon & Schuster.
http://tritt.wirefire.com The Inspiration for Writers website offers help and encouragement to writers of all levels. Tips and Techniques give practical advice about frequent writing blunders. The Writer's Prayer, inspirational quotes, and essays about the writing life add insight and inspiration. The Fiction Showcase offers short stories for the reader's enjoyment. And, for those serious about improving their writing skills, manuscript critiques and coaching services are available. Visit http://tritt.wirefire.com today!
Love Them or Leave Them
by Kathy Hartwell
Eventually, you, the writer, will
become a pack rat (or perhaps you already are). By that
statement, I mean that you probably have unfinished manuscripts lying
around your house or office. For various reasons, they were never
completed or published, and they ended up being stored in boxes, on
shelves, or on floppy disks. Yet, like devoted pets, you hated to get
rid of them.
For example, if you have fifty manuscripts from a variety of sources
and ideas, or from long, summer afternoons at the keyboard, what
should you do with the hoard of papers?
First, you can put them
in order, and do your favorites first. Do you have an essay about
butterflies that supplemented a science project? Make the most of the
theme by altering it into a short story or poem.
Second, you can begin
with the shorter ones. You can choose this approach if you are short
on time or are between writing projects. In addition, you can
incorporate dialogue that would provide characterization and drama to
Third, what about
beginning with the more developed topics?
technique can be capitalized on if you need subsequent articles.
Moreover, you would be able to conserve your valuable time to
perfecting the storyline(s). On the other hand, you can select the
best of the stories, or the one that means the most to you, and work
on it alone.
If you are short on
ideas for an upcoming deadline, pick one that you feel has the best
publishing potential. Also, make sure the topic is what the editor
(or publisher) is looking for.
If you feel that you
cannot utilize the present time in revising the manuscripts, set them
aside and work on completely new subject matter. However, I would
suggest that you briefly look over them to see where past mistakes
were made and if you have overcome those weaknesses.
In addition, if you
feel the manuscript is beyond repair, or if you do not write in that
specific genre any longer, give the unpublished draft(s) to someone in
your family. Sometimes, they will cherish that draft more so than the
publishing world. In short, never throw any manuscript away.
Besides, who knows what fortunes could develop if your lost
manuscript is found after you have become a renowned author?
Read... Two-bit Dancing
Life's an onion. Not a new concept—Usually, what we reveal to others
about ourselves adds flavor, distinction…making us appear just a bit more
exciting. Assume for a moment, that someone is peeling your life apart,
onion layer by onion layer. Are you still adding flavor? Distinction? Is
at the heart of the onion really a heart? Is it, then, the onion crying —
or the one who’s peeling…?
Angela Louie, mother of a teenager and a disabled child, is entering a
fine hotel while fidgeting with the business card of an escort service —
lapse of common sense? Hanson Lee Ascano is a computer genius working for
a prestigious firm — he also dances in an exotic night club a few nights
each week. Tom Lawson is taking on what should be a routine investigation
to reunite a parent with his children — instead, it rouses monsters.
For more info, visit... http://www.twobitdancing.com/
About the Author
Evelyn Schneider was born and raised in Germany. She has written
"almost anything from plant-care tags to television sitcoms." She lives in
San Diego, California.
She says, Two-bit Dancing was inspired by a television talk show, and
laughs. Then, serious: "The true inspiration came many years ago while
visiting a police fair. I was a teenager then and should have been
impressed by the latest crime-fighting technology. But what remained in my
soul where the images of cubicles upon cubicles filled with photographs of
children -- not victims of some far-away war but sons and daughters of
modern families: burnt, starved, locked away.