Flashbacks and Foreshadowing

[found on inspirationforwriters.com]

“Flashbacks and foreshadowing are tools that we can use to add dimension to our writing. Flashbacks give us the ability to see into a character’s past in real time. Foreshadowing drops hints of what may happen in the future. Are either one required in order to tell an effective story? No. However, there are times when they can add depth to our characters or suspense to our plot, and trust me, we can use whatever help we can get.

Flashbacks interrupt the current action of the story to show a scene from the past. As such, we must always weigh the advantages to the disadvantages. Are the benefits we receive worth leaving our characters dangling in time while we go into the past? If so, don’t hesitate to use a flashback. If not, continue with your story line and find other ways, such as exposition, discussion, etc. to entwine the past with the present.

If you choose to use a flashback, you must tip the reader that you are leaving the present. This can be done with a transition statement such as, “John remembered the day his father died.” Then, use past perfect (“had”) two or three times to complete the clue that we are entering real time in the past. And you are in the past. Act out your scene with action and dialogue, and when you are finished, clue the reader that you are returning to the present by using past perfect once or twice, and, if necessary, another transition sentence (“But that was then and this was now, and John had to let the past stay in the past.”).”

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[found on http://www.inspirationforwriters.com/techniques/flashbacks.html]