Okay, this is a variation of a common theme for writers. You’ve created an exciting scenario. A gorilla is a massive animal, renowned for its phenomenal strength. We can think of the well-known advert of King Kong as he rips apart the jaws of a T-Rex, or of him wreaking havoc in New York City. He is not a creature to tangle with. And he’s certainly not something you want to share a phone booth with.
Why did the author put the gorilla in the phone booth in the first place? Because it’s a tiny enclosure. There’s no way anyone can win a battle with a gorilla in a phone booth. The victim would be ripped apart in no time. The tension is unbearable. The reader holds his breath.
And then he’s transported to the cinema. On a trip down memory lane. What a letdown.
What was the writer thinking? He’s created a breathtaking scene, and then left the reader hanging while he explores another part of the heroine’s life. It’s called a flashback, but it’s a dangerous technique. If the author doesn’t want to lose his reader, a flashback has to be handled wisely.
For writers, the lesson is: Stay with the gorilla in the phone booth! The story needs to keep moving forward. The reader doesn’t want to know about the time at the cinema. He wants to know how Marsha is going to handle her ordeal in the phone booth.
There are times for flashbacks, but less is more. Think twice before you leave your reader stuck indefinitely in a phone booth with a gorilla. It's not a nice place to be.
OVER TO YOU: How do you feel about flashbacks when you're reading? Any authors that do them well? Do you use them in your own writing? Leave a comment below.
SHIRLEY CORDER lives on the coast in South Africa with her husband, Rob. Her book, Strength Renewed: Meditations for your Journey through Breast Cancer contains 90 meditations based on the time she faced a gorilla in the cancer valley.
Please visit Shirley through ShirleyCorder.com, where she encourages writers, or at RiseAndSoar.com, where she encourages those in the cancer valley. You can also meet with her on Twitter or FaceBook.