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12 Good Examples Of Movies That Use Flashbacks

In screenwriting, at some point you will hear that using flashbacks is considered “bad” or is a sign of an “amateur”. In the screenplays where the writer has completely abused the flashback technique — I agree.

However, when used creatively, flashbacks can be a very powerful technique. Just make sure that your use of flashbacks pays off dramatically. Below are twelve good movies where flashbacks are used throughout the story and gets it right.

 

How & When To Use Flashbacks

Flashbacks can be a powerful tool in screenwriting, as they can add depth and complexity to a story. Here are a few ways to effectively use flashbacks in screenwriting:

  1. To reveal important information about a character’s past: Flashbacks can be used to show how a character’s past experiences have shaped who they are and why they act the way they do.
  2. To add tension and suspense: Flashbacks can be used to reveal information about a past event that is related to the present story and helps to create tension and suspense.
  3. To contrast the present and past: Flashbacks can be used to create a contrast between the present and the past, highlighting the changes that have occurred in a character or a situation.
  4. To give insight into a character’s motivation: Flashbacks can be used to reveal why a character is making certain choices and what they hope to achieve.
  5. To break up the monotony of a linear narrative: Flashbacks can be used to break up a linear narrative, adding variety and keeping the audience engaged.

Tips On How To Write Flashbacks

There isn’t a right or wrong way to write flashbacks, but depending on how you want the flashback to be shown visually you may want to write it a certain way. For instance, you could insert the word “FLASHBACK” in the same line as your location if you want the flashback to appear like a montage.

FLASHBACK – GRAVEYARD

Sam raises from an unmarked grave and gasps.

A ZOMBIE chokes him from behind.

Sam fights him off — but five more zombies tackle him as he tries to run.

BACK TO PRESENT DAY

Another way to write a flashback is by just inserting it into the location and write the scene as you would normally do. For example:

FLASHBACK – INT. HOTEL SUITE – NIGHT

However you decide to write your flashbacks, just make sure it does not interrupt the flow of your story. Often times writers can get so caught up into adding so many flashbacks that it becomes hard to follow the basic plot.

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Jay Carver

Jay Carver is a screenwriter, director and producer. Through his production company J-Style Films, he has done work for companies such as Turner Broadcasting. In the past, he has worked with Hollywood actor Omari Hardwick and won several film festivals including "Best Director".

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