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What purposes does the flashback in a story serve ?

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tygasweetheart | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 12, 2013 at 6:20 AM via iOS

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What purposes does the flashback in a story serve ?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:22 PM (Answer #1)

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A flashback is a literary device in a story that provides some background information on events, situations, or a character's past history; author's often use flashbacks to reveal some important truth about a character's past that otherwise the reader might not have known.  Flashbacks can be useful in terms of characterization but also plot development or conflict.  For example, a flashback can reveal why some key event in the story has happened or why two characters struggle to get along with each other.  In analyzing your specific story, ask yourself:

1) Does the flashback reveal something about one of the characters?

2) Does the flashback hint at an older conflict, rivalry, or injustice that could influence the current conflict in the story?

3) Does the flashback tell the reader some key piece of information necessary to understanding the development of the plot?

4) What effect does the flashback have on the chronology that is development in the story?

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