Sunday, December 5, 2010

This Week's Practice Exercise

Take Me Back
Prepared by: Ruth Douillette
Posted on: 5 December 2010

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Exercise: In less than 400 words, use one of the five senses to trigger a flashback that will give a reader needed insight into a character. Begin by briefly grounding your protagonist in the present, provide a sensory trigger that brings forth a memory, and then show us the event that affected your character. Be careful to make a smooth transition.

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A flashback is a scene in a story that takes the reader back in time from the story's current setting.

Through flashbacks, readers gain information they need to understand the character's motives, or to understand a current conflict. Dreaming, finding a diary or an old letter, or meeting an old friend can catapult a character into such a recollection. Another approach is to have the character see, smell, hear, touch, or taste something that leads to a significant memory.

A well written flashback moves the reader from the present to the past without seeming contrived or awkward.

For this exercise use a sensory trigger to spark the flashback. Perhaps your character smells banana bread and flashes on a childhood scene with her grandmother. Or your character sees a candle melted to a stub and remembers dark days when the electric bill wasn't paid.

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Exercise: In less than 400 words, use one of the five senses to trigger a flashback that will give a reader needed insight into a character. Begin by briefly grounding your protagonist in the present, provide a sensory trigger that brings forth a memory, and then show us the event that affected your character. Be careful to make a smooth transition.

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Critique: How smooth was the transition to the past? Was the sensory trigger appropriate and effective? How much insight does the flashback provide?

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writing Workshop.

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