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  • Seminar
  • Online: Zoom
  • Adult (18+)

Backstory and Flashback

Apply for Scholarship
  • $85.00 Non-Member
  • $75.00 Member

Class Description

Backstory and flashback can enrich fictional narratives in important ways, providing key context and motivation to main characters, underlining the significance of themes and image systems, and adding texture and dimensionality to the story’s world. Delving into past timelines can easily go wrong, however, which may be why aspiring writers are occasionally advised to avoid it altogether. In this craft session, we’ll analyze key passages from fiction in order to answer questions such as: What’s the difference between backstory and flashback? Are there artful ways to use these techniques that help the reader understand your character’s central motivation? Do you have too much backstory or flashback in your narrative—or could you use more? We’ll read samples from writers such as Tana French, Toni Morrison, Tobias Wolff, Hilary Mantel, John le Carré. An on-the-spot writing exercise will give participants a way to use what they’ve learned to improve and deepen their stories. Come with a story draft or characters in mind to develop their past.

Scholarships Format/Location

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. Please visit the Resources tab to access the video-conference link.

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!