I learned to tell stories in the film biz. The school of thought that shaped my education was pretty firm that flashbacks are (usually) unnecessary, that everything the viewer needs to know should come out in dialogue between the characters, or in their actions.
Novels are a totally different beast. When I’m reading a story and dialogue is used for exposition (example: “you know I hate sea food”) I cringe. If it happens over and over I’m likely to put the book down and forget to pick it up. Likewise, flashbacks in fiction writing are not at all frowned upon. Most stories are structured around a current through-line, interspersed with scenes from one or more character’s back story/history.
My story has three main sections of backstory, let’s call them A, B and C. A takes place when Talulah is 13, B when she is 15 and C when she is 18. Here’s the questions I’m struggling with – do they need to come in order?
Right now my draft goes like this:
Current day story, C, current day, A, current day, B, current day resolution, end.
I like the way this unfolds, but I wonder if my readers will be irritated that I jump into the back story near the end. Should I tell it chronologically? I just don’t know. I have a bunch of cards up on a cork board, with all the current day scenes in blue and the flashbacks in yellow, and I keep switching them around, over and over, trying to decide. I think, given that this is my first novel, it might make sense to keep it simple and tell the back story in order. I might be biting off more then I can chew by mixing it up.
Should I go the humble route and lay it out real simple-like?
Or be bold and tell it in what ever way seems right to me?
I’ve never been one for simple.