12 October 2012

200 - Flashback Memories

A couple of weeks ago I missed my 2nd anniversary of blogging.  Fancy forgetting that and missing the opportunity for a celebration! However this is another milestone - Post No. 200. 

It's been fun meeting people through this blog and via their comments and emails, and also meeting them on Twitter and the occasional forum. Thanks for reading and here's to another hundred posts. Actually that's quite a daunting thought. I started blogging just before Driftwood was published, so it was a very exciting few months with lots happening, and so obviously lots to write about. 

There have been plenty of times I've hit a blank spot when I've tried to write a post, but as with any type of writing, the more often you write (rather than thinking about writing), the more open you are to those triggers, thoughts and inspiration. 

When I don't write regularly those flashes of inspiration seem to disappear.  What I've realised is that they're always happening, it's more that I'm not in such a receptive mood and don't notice them.  That's certainly a great reason for writing often.

Recently a friend commented she'd planted pea seedlings in her garden.  My dad loved gardening, and when I was little he planted peas every year.  He rarely got more than one cooked meal of peas because my mother and I loved eating them as 'sugar snaps'.  I remember us so clearly in the garden. My mother would be hanging out the washing or some other job and I would be on the swing, and then we'd have a look at the plants to see if there were any peas just right for picking and eating.

We didn't have a very large garden, but it was a treasure trove of things to eat as my dad had various fruit bushes: blackcurrants, red currents, raspberries, gooseberries, as well as an apple and pear tree.

He always did wonder how come the peas only produced enough for one meal each year. 

My mum died just over a year ago and this was a very special memory, something I'd not thought about for years and triggered by a mention of a friend planting peas.

In my first draft of Driftwood I had large chunks of backstory as sections. In subsequent drafts these became flashbacks, and finally through an assessment and editing some were removed and others cut down to what was absolutely necessary.

We often use flashbacks as a way of dumping backstory into our manuscript, and as a reader this often makes me skim over that part. There is a place for flashbacks, but they should be used carefully, and after honestly answering the question - Does the reader NEED to know this?

The other point that occurred to me, after thinking about my mother and I eating those pea pods, was the way the memory made me feel. I don't think I've really considered this while writing, but if our protagonist has been reminded of something that happened in their past, how does it make them feel? It may change their mood - they may have been happy, but the memory could stir feelings of anger, regret, sadness, and therefore change the way the rest of the scene continues.

My memory was a happy one, and it made me feel good.

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