Sometimes, when writing a story, you have plenty of little details and occurrences in the backstory, relevant information to give your readers. The past has plenty of answers and questions you want to share with them but you face some difficulties in placing this information into or throughout the middle of the story.
There aren’t many rules about how to go about achieving this, but here are some helpful tips:
Simple and clear, a line with a date and the occurrence that took place, short and simple, and that’s it. You start writing your marvelous scene. One of the benefits of employing this method is that it immediately carries your reader to the point you wanted to take them to.
This might be especially important, and come in handy, in situations when the facts you’re about to recount, took place way before your characters were even born.
Quite common in many books, you’ve probably encountered this little method before. The book starts with a prologue that tells the reader what happened before the timeline in which the main story will be taking place. It might have a dateline anyway, but it often doesn’t provide one.
A little controversial among some groups of writers, flashbacks are a powerful technique, which may be essential to ‘showcasing’ backstory, rather than merely recounting it, especially when strewn into opportune moments within the main story.
The most common way of doing it is exactly in such manner, where somewhere along the storyline, something triggers a memory in a character from some earlier period in their lives.
You write a couple of sentences to transition you in and then you start the flashback. In the end, you’ll need to provide some realistic measure of transition back out into your storyline and it’s over, done. Simple, but not at all easy.
Another way of transitioning at the end of the character’s flashback is by ending the chapter your story finds itself in. You then need the beginning of the next chapter to already in the present time. This usually provides less confusion that could come with the transition, being very effective there, but could prompt question in your reader about how the transition out of that flashback might’ve taken place. You might need to make a reference to it later if you want to clear it up, but it’s not always required.
Well, this one I left for last due to three small reasons: boring, boring and boring. However, it’s important too. Let’s see.
Showing a scene in real-time is exciting, yet, not a very effective way of giving information to your reader. So, there are some questions you must ask yourself about your own story.
How important is the information you want to give out? How does it interact with the present story? Is it more important for the story that such information be delivered as effectively as possible and clearly understood, or would you rather it be entertaining?
None of the techniques are perfect, nor are they totally avoidable. It depends on your book, your story, and your goal of delivering this information. Therefore, if you have doubts, try to get some more information about each technique so you can choose which one best fits your work.