We all have memories, some good, some of them not so good. At times, you haul them out, dust them off and ruminate on the past. Share stories with friends, you laugh and commiserate over those stories.
In essence, you’re flashing back to the past. Something that’s easy to do in real life. You simply chat with whomever it is you’re telling the memory to.
When you’re an author writing a book, your characters memories become slightly tricky to deal with at times. Especially if a character’s back-story is an integral part of their present. How does an author deal with these memories without boring the readers to tears? A lot of us have dealt with this complicated issue at times.
There are a few things you can do to work the memories into the book. It depends on how much of your book is going to be eaten up by flashbacks. If your character’s story depends heavily on their past, you might consider alternating chapters. One set in the past and the next present day. This eliminates the constant need for the character to be ruminating on their past and possibly boring the reader.
If your book contains only a few flashbacks, you can work them into the flow of the story. This can be tricky for some authors to master. It isn’t often easy to show the character thinking on the past, go through the memory, and not lose the flow of the story, or confuse the reader.
Some authors believe firmly in doing flashbacks completely in italics. They want the memory obvious and set separate from the character’s other thoughts. Doing flashbacks in italics is something I personally try and avoid. In my opinion, I think it takes away from the flow of the story to have an entire block of a chapter all in italics.
We all have to do what feels right for us when writing. I’m sure authors have found other ways to deal with this issue that I haven’t come across. Especially, Sci-Fi writers, I’m very certain they could come up with some very creative ways for their characters to deal with past events in the present day.
Creativity never ends and some of those writing rules can be bent without breaking them. Challenge them and you’ll find new ways to do a lot of things.