Flashbacks, kinda

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  • Flashbacks, kinda

    I am comfortable with flashbacks, but here is a question based on some feedback I recently received:

    If I start with a man who is 50, then 'flashback' to him when he's 24, but that is where the majority of the story takes place (we don't return to him when he's 50 until the end), is that a flashback?

    Someone was like "There's no flash about it! I kept waiting to see when we return, grrr."

    Thoughts? Should I consider doing it differently, like just do a title that says "26 years earlier" and forget about the flashback? Does it matter?

    Thanks!
    www.JustinSloanAuthor.com

    http://www.CreativeWritingCareer.com
    http://www.MilitaryVeteransinCreativeCareers.com

    Twitter: @JustinMSloan

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  • #2
    Re: Flashbacks, kinda

    Does the 50 year old version do anything, or is it like Private Ryan or Titanic? If the latter, then I guess technically it's a framed narrative rather than flashback.

    If you got that comment from a reader there must be something in the opening that suggests we'll be flicking back and forth. To my mind a flashback has to bring something new to the present (main) story; whereas in Titanic etc, the story is in the past, with the present stuff just framing the telling of the story.

    Not sure if that actually helps...
    My stuff

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    • #3
      Re: Flashbacks, kinda

      Well, there are two different arguments here.

      The first is the semantic one. No, I wouldn't call this a flashback. It sounds to me like it's a framing device, and if you're going to do it, I'd just say "26 years earlier."

      The second argument is the "why are you doing this?" argument, which I think is also important. Obviously there are lots of good examples of films with this type of framing device that work, but this sort of thing has become really really tropey.

      I wouldn't do this without a really compelling reason. What ends up happening is that you've got twice the world to set up. Just when I'm getting into the world of your story, suddenly it switches and I'm in a whole new world you need to set up again. I often feel like, "I was just getting into the story you were telling!" In a movie this is less of a big deal because I generally know what movie I'm going to see (eg, one about a 24-year old, or one about a 50-year old).

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      • #4
        Re: Flashbacks, kinda

        Thank you! So instead just do the 26 years earlier thing. I suppose as a title or insert? I am less familiar with those, because I try to avoid them.

        And don't worry, it makes total sense and the first framing device lasts about half a page at most. It comes back at the end for two pages or so (and is the part I am often complimented on the most).

        I'll have to look at hwo Private Ryan and Titanic do it. They don't say 'flash back' in the script?
        www.JustinSloanAuthor.com

        http://www.CreativeWritingCareer.com
        http://www.MilitaryVeteransinCreativeCareers.com

        Twitter: @JustinMSloan

        Want a free book?

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        • #5
          Re: Flashbacks, kinda

          I think he meant as a "super," and trottier has examples of that. For the record, IMHO, it's very important to the story. Great script Justin!

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          • #6
            Re: Flashbacks, kinda

            Thank you Nativeson - I appreciate it!

            As someone who has read it, do you think a Super would be better?
            www.JustinSloanAuthor.com

            http://www.CreativeWritingCareer.com
            http://www.MilitaryVeteransinCreativeCareers.com

            Twitter: @JustinMSloan

            Want a free book?

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            • #7
              Re: Flashbacks, kinda

              Originally posted by stainjm View Post
              I am comfortable with flashbacks, but here is a question based on some feedback I recently received:

              If I start with a man who is 50, then 'flashback' to him when he's 24, but that is where the majority of the story takes place (we don't return to him when he's 50 until the end), is that a flashback?

              Someone was like "There's no flash about it! I kept waiting to see when we return, grrr."

              Thoughts? Should I consider doing it differently, like just do a title that says "26 years earlier" and forget about the flashback? Does it matter?

              Thanks!
              If you're going to bookend your film with the future, then you have to provide a sufficient amount of story context that allows you to reveal the final character change that you see, for example in Titanic.

              Don't wash over this very effective framing tool. Think about it carefully, because, if done right, it can have a very powerful impact on the narrative and the audience when the final revelation occurs--

              Remember how fulfilling it was when Rose drops the blue diamond into the sea? She has a story that's outside the internal narrative of the Titanic-- right? The fact that her fiance put a bullet through his skull in the 1929 crash. The fact that she feels 'trapped' on the Titanic? She 'voices' her desires that she felt the moment she embarked on the voyage-- "to everyone else it was the ship of dreams--" to her it was a prison, a trap.

              So she tells us what her desire is, then we flashback to her embarking on her journey-- the story unfolds-- then in the end she resolves her character arc right after she achieves the goal of the film, which is to get to America, find adventure and escape the entrapments of her position.

              If you can do all that in half a page-- go for it, but if it takes a little longer, give yourself the time to 'breathe' through the opening, so it's as powerful as it can be.

              You can only use this as a framing device if it has an over-arcing meaning to the story.

              Just my opinion.
              Good luck,
              FA4
              "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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              • #8
                Re: Flashbacks, kinda

                Originally posted by stainjm View Post
                Thank you Nativeson - I appreciate it!

                As someone who has read it, do you think a Super would be better?
                The bookends are already there. A poignant structure I wouldn't change. As the to formatting question, I don't think a super would hurt at all. When returning full circle at the end you could use BACK TO PRESENT.

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