5-day Short Story Challenge – Day 3

Day 3: Playing with Time

From Tania Hershman

One of the most enjoyable things you can do in writing is to play around with time. You might want to tell your story in a linear way or you might find it suits your story to jump around, going backwards and forwards in time. It can create a sense of suspense to stop the present action, whatever is happening in the “now” of a story, and slip into a flashback – maybe a week, a year, a decade ago – to give us a little backstory, this could shed some light on why our characters are doing what they are doing now or perhaps heighten the sense of mystery. You could also use a flash forward to give us a glimpse of what happens to the character in the future. You might end up wanting to tell your whole story backwards – I’ve done that in two of my stories!

Today’s task is to write a flashback. You’ve learned a little more about your character from hearing them talk to someone; perhaps they said something that made you want to go back and find out what turned them into the person they are now? Decide how far back you are going to go, and where your character is. Write for 20 minutes, following your character anywhere they go. There may be dialogue, too.

For inspiration, here’s another of my favourite short stories, which plays with time and with memory: Between My Father And The King by Janet Frame.

Tomorrow: the creative pause.