Flashbacks in literature – how to make them effective

There are many examples of flashback in literature. Some are skillfully pulled off. Some others totter on the brink of disaster, but manage to lead the reader back to the story before all is lost. Finally, some other flashbacks are like a knife in the hands of a butcher: they slaughter the story and leave it agonizing, bleeding to death. This doesn’t necessarily mean that writing a strong and effective flashback is a herculean feat. In fact, this could merely mean that flashbacks tend to be overlooked by authors. Because they are considered “easy stuff”. From a purely technical point of view they are right–it’s not at all that difficult to devise an effective flashback. However, to fully exploit the evocative powers of a flashback it is essential to follow some basic principles.

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6 easy tips on how to use the exclamation point in creative writing

It’s extremely easy to use the exclamation point. In fact, you should never use such a banal device to draw the attention of your readers to what you’re writing! Never!! Not even in non fiction!!! Or rather, especially not in non fiction!!!! Well, if the exclamation point has to be used so sparingly as to appear no more than a few times every 100.000 words, then, you might think, it would be better to discard it altogether. But there’s always a but. Especially in the realm of rules about grammar and language. In fact, writers love giving advice about writing–after all, for them it’s a way as good as any other to keep debating about what they love most. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you should follow all the tips they toss off. The reason is simple. Writing is such a personal endeavour that there’s no guarantee of sorts that what …

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Alternative swear words or plain old swear words–which is best in fiction?

I’m more than willing to admit that alternative swear words can be useful at times, both when writing fiction and in real life. But old fashioned traditional curse words are so widespread for a very simple reason. They work. They help us to relieve stress. In fact, in any language, the moment a word ceases to have any function, it also stops being used. It somehow survives longer in dictionaries. But never in new novels (if they’re not historical ones) and in the everyday parlance of the people. In a way, evolution works for the words of a language just like for living organisms. As a result, I think it is essential for any writer to understand that, provided the words they set for are in actual use or have been so, the choice about whether to use swear words or alternative swear words is just that, first and foremost a stylistic choice. A choice that …

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How to write dialogue – 10 easy and effective tips

The only rule in literature is that there are no rules. It’s fashionable to say so. But this doesn’t mean that it’s true, or that in literature anything goes. I mean, putting together one hundred thousand words or even more in such a way that they all work smoothly together to recreate the story you have in your head is, to say the least, a notable feat. Then if  this recreation of yours is so finely honed that you manage to totally captivate your readers’ attention, well that’s sheer magic. And magic, you know, requires formulas, rituals, a maniacal attention for apparently insignificant details. Yes, you guessed right. Magic does require rules. Some rules at least. Some of the time. In fact, it is essential to understand from the get go that rules are not set in stone, and that writers should experiment with them. To discard those they feel …

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