Instead of doing my usual piece on writing advice, I thought I would do a rant this week…
I have recently hit an issue while I’m writing my current novel Dead Friends. See, I’m writing a chapter where my main character is remembering a time when she was a little girl. The main story takes place in modern 2018, she’s 19, so when she would have been four years old, it would have been 2003.
Doesn’t seem like a problem, right? Just write the flashback. Even easier, since I know the time period well enough, I should be able to write it no problem…
Then I start writing the flashback, and every time I imagine this woman as a little girl, I’m thinking of things from my childhood. I want to describe the cameras as these huge things that had film in which needed to get developed. I want to describe the pictures she’s looking at as a woman about this time period as yellowed polaroids though realistically this would have been in the height of the digital camera boom. Every way I want to write this scene, I want to play off of my own nostalgia and I have to stop myself from doing so.
I know. It is stupid and such a petty thing. I don’t know why I am getting so frustrated by this problem, and as there will be more of these flashbacks coming in the book, I know this won’t be the only time this situation is coming up.
As a fix for this, I have had to slow myself down and think more about all the little details I have been putting into this chapter. One aspect was not going into detail about the camera’s that were used to take the picture, though I could have. Another is to just keep reminding myself that this is the characters childhood and not my own. It gets difficult as I find myself wanting to add in little stories that I think would be cute, but instead I have to thinking about it more and plan more the characters past.
In the end I can’t really give any good advice on this subject. I’m still wrestling with it myself. So I will revert back to my most used piece of advice and take my time. Another way to say it, and of course to quote the Smart Cookies from Sesame Street, you have to “stop and think it through.” Big win for the cookie monster there. Who would have have thought you would get writing advice from the Cookie Monster?
So, everyone… what would you like to rant about with your writing? Have you come across a situation that you just had a hard time wrapping your mind around until you wanted to open your door and scream out in frustration? It doesn’t have to be anything serious. Often times this stuff is really petty, but what little tick that you find yourself doing that you tell yourself you need to focus on stopping?
It was recently brought to my attention that I have killed the character Tina in nearly every book I’ve written and one book twice. Of course this was pointed out to me by a friend. Of course her name is…Tina. So now, no more Tina’s will be harmed in the course of my writing. I shall forever be sparing the life of Tina…. until I’m not.
2 thoughts on “Writer’s Rant: Frustration with Flashbacks”
Perhaps you should take a moment and write a little story about your childhood with all the fun memories you want to include to get them out of your head and clear space 🙂 you never know if just might spark a new story for later.
I have a hard time with filling in the mundane details between the action. I rush forward to the juicy stuff all the time, and I’ve had to learn to slow down, or go back, and flesh out the big picture.
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I’ve written some shorts with some family memories, but that’s not really the issue I was coming into. I think it’s more of a mentality. When I write my characters I try to get into their head and as I was writing this little girl and trying to get into the mind of a four year old in the 2000’s, I had this disconnect. I worked through it, but had to do an ‘old man’ rant about it.
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