Episode 39: Flashbacks

In this episode:

The short of it:

Flashbacks! And how Abby epically screws them up. 

The long of it:

Raising the stakes is not necessarily about high drama - it’s about raising the emotional resonance of what events mean to your character.
— Jennie Nash

Abby and Jennie talk about her most recent revisions and being in the lens of your character, seeing things from their eyes. This is a great episode if you want to get into the nitty gritty of character motivation and background. What writers often miss is the including appropriate reactions in how their particular characters would react to events given their own personalities, histories, and quirks. 

When you bring up the cause and effect trajectory it can mean big things, dominoes falling, scene-to-scene trajectory in the story, but it's also true on a sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph level. Abby was able to insert a major idea, the idea of leaving childhood behind, into a scene where her character is looking through a drawer of old toys, but she included a lot of other memories for her character that weren't necessarily pertinent to the point of the scene. Jennie says that when you're setting up an idea like this you're introducing a whole theme that you can then explore, but it's important to maintain your focus on the point of what you've introduced. Don't get lost in the trees - keep the forest in sight. 

Jennie and Abby continue to discuss flashbacks, their potential problems, and how to spot and solve them. In real life, memories reference things that have happened to us in order to help us move through problems and make meaning of what's happening to us in the present. Flashbacks can be an important tool for imparting information to the reader in a creative way. It's great to have multiple triggers for flashbacks, but they need to be brief and have a specific point to avoid it turning into an info dump, and too many memories at once can lose the point of the scene.The whole point of a flashback is for the character to have an opportunity to make sense of what's happening to them. 

Lastly, we discuss what these events in the scenes mean to Abby's character, Bernadette, and how they drive the scene and keep story-level problem front and center. Everything needs to serve the story - to highlight what the main problem is and keep weaving that thread throughout the plot. If you need to go back in your story and add additional details to shore up that thread or the themes you're trying to impart - do it! Worldbuilding in the beginning is an essential key in helping the reader make sense of later points in your story.