Using Flashbacks

Several days ago, Becky Levine wrote an entry about the use of flashbacks. They need to be used sparingly, and determining if one is necessary can be difficult.

She reminded me of the only flashback I wrote, located in book two of my TIP (Trilogy In Progress).

I planned to give a little background before showing you the excerpt, but after reading it I changed my mind. I want it judged as is. Plus, I think you’ll understand Zephyr’s feelings in the first sentence, and why I felt the flashback worked.

How about you? Does it work?

Even after the door shut, Zephyr couldn’t muster the courage to look at Kallie. As soon as he laid eyes on her, he wouldn’t see the scared and likely angry grown woman, but the sweet, vivacious little girl he had known before the Center turned her into a killer.

He turned away as he remembered one day when she ran into his lab at the age of six. She squealed with joy as the bright, red-headed boy chased after her. She leapt into Zephyr’s outstretched arms and yelled, “Safe!”

Little Michel tried to grab her ankle and pull her down, but Zephyr held Kallie out of reach. She giggled.

“Sorry, Michel,” Zephyr said, “but she called ‘safe.’”

Jutting out his chin and the very definition of quiet confidence Michel quipped, “You have to come down sometime.”

The boy then sauntered outside as if he no longer wanted to play this silly game, but Zephyr knew he only went around the corner to catch Kallie as she left the lab.

By the smile and gleam in her eye, she knew it too.

“Thanks for saving me,” she said. She kissed his cheek before he let her down.

Zephyr watched as Kallie fled the lab. She ran barely fast enough to remain out of Michel’s grasp. Their taunts and laughter echoed through the hallway as the chase continued.

“I can’t save you this time,” Zephyr whispered as he rubbed his cheek where Kallie had planted that kiss so many years ago.

6 thoughts on “Using Flashbacks

  1. The flashback works, but I would use more description for the little girl. I sense you want to play up the innocence and description will add to that. Also, I focus on one detail about her that has changed that you can use as a metaphor to show a loss of innocence. For example, say she has a birthmark shaped like a butterfly. The child would love butterflies. Say as she got older the birthmark lost that shape. That metaphor will work wonders for what you are trying to do.


  2. Thanks, Maria!
    I appreciate your input. I will say, however, some of your suggestions are addressed in different parts of the book, such as Kallie’s loss of innocence.
    I know that’s hard to see in such a short segment of this story.
    I like your idea of the birthmark, and I will certainly give your suggestions some thought.
    Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you around again. I love receiving advice from others, because they often see things I miss.


  3. I like it. I think it flows smoothly and is interesting enough that the reader will not feel compelled to “skip over” it in favor of sticking with the current action.
    I have a few editing suggestions, which you can take or leave.
    In paragraph two (P2), I would strike “one day”. Also, if it works in context I would say “a bright, red-headed boy” (instead of ‘the’).
    In P5, I prefer “Jutting out his chin in” (instead of ‘and’)
    In P6, I would strike the “then” (The boy sauntered…)
    P9: I prefer “just” over “barely”
    All small changes…


  4. Thanks Jessica for taking the time to critique!
    It’s always the little things I miss, and as Maria pointed out, description is not my strong suit.


  5. I think it works well, also, but do agree with the first comment.
    I have to say I’m not sure this line works:
    Jutting out his chin and the very definition of quiet confidence Michel quipped, “You have to come down sometime.”
    It doesn’t feel symmetrical, so to speak. Maybe describe the quiet confidence instead of telling us he has it?


  6. I’m thinking now I should have added more. This little piece didn’t include the details you and Maria mentioned.
    I like the idea of describing his confidence instead of telling.


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