Re: RARA-AVIS: How much Background?

From: Miles Archer (
Date: 13 May 2003

on 5/13/03 12:32 PM, Bludis Jack at wrote:
> long, Joe Pike
> flashbacks distracted from the forward movement
> of the book, even though they may have more
> thoroughly explained the character, and did have
> relationship to the present action.

Well, that's the problem with flashbacks as a writing technique. Flashbacks pretty much always bring the action to a halt, for a bit, anyway. And a reader always has to make a little mental adjustment when it comes.

If the writer uses it judiciously, it's a good device to regulate pacing. After a lot of action scenes, sometimes it's nice to slow the pace of the story for a bit. This is when the writer can 'fill in' with some detail(s) that explore or amplify character or 'back story'.

Personally, I don't like too much introspection in my mystery/thriller/etc. reading. Okay, sure, some motivation is important, and many times I find that a central character's motivation is too weak to support the plot. This is where the writer has failed to sufficiently build character as the action moves forward.

The bottom line is that, like many other stylistic mannerisms of writers, some folks like it, some folks don't. It's why they make chocolate _and_ vanilla.

Miles Archer
(Who knows what he's supposed to do, but finds doing it difficult to do well.)

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