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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Take Me Back

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/).

Prepared by: Ruth Douillette
Posted on: 5 November 2006
Reposted on: 8 June 2008
Reposted on: 15 November 2009
Reposted on: 5 December 2010
Reposted on: 30 September 2012
Reposted on: 31 May 2015
Reposted on: 26 March 2017

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Exercise: In less than 400 words, use one of the five senses
to trigger a flashback that will give a reader needed insight
into a character. Begin by briefly grounding your protagonist
in the present, provide a sensory trigger that brings forth a
memory, and then show us the event that affected your character.
Be careful to make a smooth transition.

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A flashback is a scene in a story that takes the reader back in
time from the story's current setting.

Through flashbacks, readers gain information they need to
understand the character's motives, or to understand a current
conflict. Dreaming, finding a diary or an old letter, or
meeting an old friend can catapult a character into such a
recollection. Another approach is to have the character see,
smell, hear, touch, or taste something that leads to a
significant memory.

A well written flashback moves the reader from the present to
the past without seeming contrived or awkward.

For this exercise use a sensory trigger to spark the flashback.
Perhaps your character smells banana bread and flashes on a
childhood scene with her grandmother. Or your character sees a
candle melted to a stub and remembers dark days when the electric
bill wasn't paid.

-----------------------

Exercise: In less than 400 words, use one of the five senses
to trigger a flashback that will give a reader needed insight
into a character. Begin by briefly grounding your protagonist
in the present, provide a sensory trigger that brings forth a
memory, and then show us the event that affected your character.
Be careful to make a smooth transition.

-----------------------

Critique: How smooth was the transition to the past? Was the
sensory trigger appropriate and effective? How much insight does
the flashback provide?



Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.