Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Remembers

I sincerely apologize for not posting last Monday; the power box located three feet outside my house exploded, thus destroying my Wi-Fi access. I would have posted the next day, but I promptly left for New York at 4:45 a.m. and spent the next 7 hours wandering around the LaGaurdia airport, so... I'm guilty.

On the upside, my New York birthday trip invigorated my writing spirit and enhanced my desire to someday reside in an adorable flat and write comedy sketches for NBC. A girl can dream, right?

As you all know (citizens of the great USA, at the very least), today is Memorial Day, the day where: if you're still in school, you're probably out; or if you're fortunate enough that this day lands in your summer vacation, congratulations, it's another day of the rest of your life. Wrong. Actually, what I said was exactly right, but there is a better explanation to sum this day up. Memorial Day lets us remember the good men and women of America who died serving their country. In other words, it's a day of remembrance-- which also plays a great role in our stories and novels. Cue the awkward conversation segue.

Flashbacks occasionally (and for some writers, quite frequently) help us out in our writings. Flashbacks present opportunities to further give characters depth and create foreshadowing and dum dum DUM... suspense. I bow down to the flashback god; he gave us a completely ingenious technique of incorporating major details in a funny or dramatic way to convey important character flaws or backstory information. I'm aware I yacked about Harry Potter in my last post (and many thanks to Jewels for her short but amazing post last week with her Harry Potter videos), but J.K. Rowling never ceases to amaze me- especially with her use of the most amazing invention ever dreamed so awesome I could die Pensieve. For those of you who don't know (and shame on you if you aren't educated), the Pensieve in the Harry Potter series served as a source of many nicely placed flashbacks. Located in Dumbledore's office, Harry used the Pensieve in the last book to retrieve a memory of Snape's, which proved crucial in establishing the real man behind the somewhat-creepy Professor Snape. Once fully emersed in the Pensieve, a character can relive any memory he or she extracts from a wizard. So, Rowling created a totally fail-proof way to set up her flashbacks, and it was completely original (to my knowledge, anyway). If you have an uncanny way to set up your story's flashbacks, props to you, because I have not found that way as of now.

I will admit, writers can get a little too flashback-happy. In my younger days (ha- like I'm so old), I wrote a story where I featured a flashback every single chapter. At first, my twelve year-old self was thinking, Oh yeah, I'm so cool, it's like I'm writing a story within a story. If Inception had been out then, I would have thought they ripped off my story-within-a-story idea. But as the plot wore on, it became difficult to keep up with all the details I had given (and not given), and it was evident that my numerous flashbacks drew away from the present story. So, after 24,000 words and the heartbreak of the century, I knew it was time to lock up my flashback obsession and keep it in my back pocket for a rainy day.

When it comes to flashbacks, moderation is key, I suppose. Always make sure that they add, not take away, to your story. If done correctly, you could have a fantastic novel like this one here. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder is a great example where flashbacks actually make up the story itself. I suggest you look it up if you have never read it.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day weekend, and remember our wonderful American troops! Cue flashback from today's barbecue...