Flashbacks

I was originally going to follow my Hero’s Journey article with the Heroine’s Journey. However, I’m currently working on Stephanie Walden’s manuscript, The Secret Dancer, and one of her prominent storytelling techniques is flashbacks.

Flashbacks seem to be one of those things people either love or hate. Problematic flashbacks include ones that:

  • Disrupt the flow of the narrative
  • Deflate story tension and pace
  • Are used for exposition (aka. Info Dumps)
  • Explain – or justify – character motivation.

These are just a few examples, but they are fairly prevalent.

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Vogler’s Hero’s Journey (3 Act Structure)

Whether readers/viewers know it or not, there is an unconscious expectation novels/films will fit a particular narrative structure. There are a number of narrative structures, and while you don’t need to rigidly follow every step, per say, it is important to understand these structures and why they work.

Vogler’s revision of the Hero’s Journey is the most well-known and will be the main example I use in the following article.

The Hero’s Journey follows a 3 Act structure (later, we will arbitrarily break this down into a page count measurement using the same rules for a 90 minute film script), and includes 12 stages:

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