Reader's Corner: Flashbacks, Love Them, Hate Them?

antique-clock

Definition:

flash·back

noun
1. a device in the narrative of a motion picture, novel, etc., by which an event or scene taking place before the present time in the narrative is inserted into the chronological structure of the work.
2. an event or scene so inserted. -from Dictionary.com

I must admit that as a reader I don’t really care for the heavy use of flashbacks. No. I hate them. I couldn’t explain to you the why of my displeasure with them only that I inwardly cringe when I run across them as they continue to go on and on at length. There are exceptions of course. Yes, of course! It would have to take a skillful writer to make me forget that I am lost in italicized flashbacks.

As with everything, there must be balance. If the majority of the story must be told in flashbacks then chances are slim to none that I’ll read your book or finish your book. I don’t mind “flashbacks” when they are maybe a paragraph or two in length but no, flashbacks for me are a major PITA. What say you, the gentle reader about flashbacks? Love them? Hate them? Neutral? Yes, this post was inspired by a book I am currently reading. That is all.

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About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
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8 Responses to Reader's Corner: Flashbacks, Love Them, Hate Them?

  1. SarahT says:

    No, no and no. I’m not fond of flashbacks and they seem to be in every third book I read. There are occasions when they work but they must advance the storyline. Julia Spencer-Fleming did a wonderful job with flashbacks in ‘Out of the Deep I Cry’, but this is an exception. Flashbacks don’t prevent me from reading a book but I usually sigh if I see them.

  2. Jorrie Spencer says:

    Mostly I’m not crazy over them, but if they’re well done, I can actually really like them. Big if though…

  3. Popin says:

    I just finished a book that had a lot of flashbacks. I think if it’s done properly and helps move the story I wouldn’t mind. What I don’t like is when one chapter tells you that you’re reading a flashback, then when you get to the next one it’s set in the present time…only you find that out as you read the chapter since it wasn’t stated that you’re in present time.

    ~ Popin

  4. MF Makichen says:

    You summed it up perfectly. It has to be done well and not a lot.

  5. JenB says:

    I pretty much cringe any time I see more than one or two italicized sentences in a row, which means I’m not a fan of most flashback scenes or dream sequences. I skim most short italicized passages and often completely skip extremely long ones, and so far I don’t feel I’ve missed out on any key elements in any story.

    I can tolerate flashback scenes in normal type that are better incorporated into the story, but italicized flashback passages give me hives. So I guess it’s not the flashback itself that bothers me so much as the font that sets them apart from the rest of the story and makes them appear optional.

  6. Kaetrin says:

    It really depends on the story and how it’s done for me.

    For example, Sherry Thomas’ books – Private Arrangements, Delicious (which I have read) and Not Quite a Husband (which I haven’t read – yet) are told in fairly large chunks of “now” and “before”. Her stories are all about lovers reunited – so the “before” is when they met and what went wrong and the “now” is how they get back together. I gave it some thought when I read Delicious and I thought that if the stories were told in linear fashion quite a bit would have been lost from them.

    But, there have been other books (none of which I can now recall the name of) where the flashback scenes just irritated.

  7. Bev Stephans says:

    @SarahT
    I agree with your commentary on Julia Spencer-Fleming’s, “Out of the Deep I Cry”. Come to think of it, she hasn’t written a bad book yet!

    Most of the time, flashbacks are just irritating. I can only think of a few books that kept me reading on to the end.

  8. Bookwormom says:

    Whether or not I like them depends on how they’re done. I just finished a book where every other (short) chapter was a flashback. Not sure I think it needed to be done that way. I guess I lean towards not liking them, but I’m willing to go with it until it gets annoying.

    ~Amanda

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