Flashbacks and Flashforwards


storytelling techniques for developing the story and the backstory simultaneously

Often the purpose of telling a story is not just to document the effort to solve a problem but to convey understanding as to how such a problem came to be in the first place. If the author wants to develop both story and backstory simultaneously during the course of the storytelling by alternating between them, two primary techniques are available: the Flashback and the Flashforward. In the Flashback, the story proper is assumed to take place in the present. Flashbacks then reveal key episodes in the development of the problem (the Backstory), sometimes in the past, to underscore or contrast specific points in the story as appropriate and as desired. In the Flashforward, the Backstory is assumed to take place in the present and the story is revealed to the audience in episodes illustrating the future outcome of forces presently put into play. In either case, by the end of the storytelling, both Backstory and Story have been fully illustrated to the extent desired to convey the intended message.