Do you know the difference between flashback and backstory? Brian Klems, online editor blogger on the Writer’s Digest blog, offers an excellent, brief explanation of the difference in his article, “What is flashback in a story?” Klems writes: “Some folks confuse (flashback) with backstory, but the time constraints of a flashback don’t allow us to share too many details. They just allow us to reveal tidbits.” For more on this topic, visit his blog.
But how do you decide which one to use and when? Is there a strategy or guidelines for this? There’s a pretty good article on another blog, Be a Better Writer, with Pearl Luke, that gives examples of both.
“Each story has a time frame,” she writes. “…backstory must be shown, however, and not told.” She also warns, “Any time you interrupt the forward moving story, you risk losing reader interest, so dramatizing the interruption decreases that risk.” She offers examples, techniques, and basic guidelines on how to get around this. See for yourself.
"We don't write what we know. We write what we wonder about." --Richard Peck