Flash Backs in a novel, good or bad?

Questions for the resident (former) agent
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Juls Duncan
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Flash Backs in a novel, good or bad?

Post by Juls Duncan » December 31st, 2010, 10:32 am

I heard that if you have flash backs in a novel, your manuscript will be rejected by most agents that you send it to… Is this true?
Thanks Juls

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cheekychook
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Re: Flash Backs in a novel, good or bad?

Post by cheekychook » December 31st, 2010, 11:48 am

I'm not Nathan, but I started a thread about this a while ago....here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1477
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allegedauthor
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Re: Flash Backs in a novel, good or bad?

Post by allegedauthor » January 5th, 2011, 9:38 pm

I think flashbacks are great when they are done seamlessly. You don't want to jar your reader. One of the best series of flashbacks I've ever read is Stephen King's IT. Almost half the novel consists of flashbacks, but you wouldn't notice because he never pulls you out of the main conflict. I don't think agents hate flashbacks, but I think they hate them when they aren't done well. Just my opinion though. Good luck!

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wordranger
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Re: Flash Backs in a novel, good or bad?

Post by wordranger » January 8th, 2011, 10:27 pm

I agree with alegedauthor. If it is done well, and makes sense, why not?
If it is written poorly, or has no purpose being where you put it, of course it will be a problem.

Use your best judgement. If you think it feels wrong, it probably is. If you love it and it feels right, GO WITH IT!
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Don't be afraid to lose yourself in them.

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JohnDurvin
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Re: Flash Backs in a novel, good or bad?

Post by JohnDurvin » January 11th, 2011, 4:17 pm

Make sure you're using the flashbacks as a plot device rather than a gimmick; used well, they reveal backstory, add dimension, even change the direction of the "present." Used badly, they either take up space or confuse people (especially when they are unlabeled, as some post-modernists like to do.) A good guide to follow is this: did you think of a plot that is best told using flashbacks, or did you just think that "Memento" was a really cool movie?
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