A flashback in a book or film is when the current plot is interrupted so that a scene which previously occurred can be shared with the reader. This scene, which often occurred prior to the opening scene of the novel or movie, helps to give the reader information about characters or events so that they can be better understood.
1. In a story about a girl who is afraid of heights, there is a flashback to a time when she fell off of the top of a playground as a young child.
2. In a story about a man who acts strangely and rue, there is a flashback to a scene of war, in which this man was a soldier.
3. A story begins with a scene of a desolate, destroyed town, then flashes back to a time when the town was full of life and people.
Examples of Flashback in Literature and Film
1. Wuthering Heights begins and Cathy is dead. Much of the action in the story is a flashback from that point.
2. In The Outsiders, Johnny is nervous and always carries a knife. The novel flashes back at one point to let us know that Johnny was beaten up in the past, and now carries a knife with him.
3. In the children's movie Up, the old man has a flashback as he remembers meeting his wife and marrying her, which helps us to better understand why he does not want to leave the house that they have shared.
4. Forrest Gump is a series of flashbacks. As Forrest meets new people, he sits down and tells them a story from his life.