Master the Flashback

How to use flashbacks skillfully to enhance your story, not slow it down


Tiffany Yates Martin


Live on May 4, 2022, or watch recording


Beginning to intermediate novelists and memoirists


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

The flashback can act as both friend or foe to authors—and readers.

Used skillfully, flashbacks offer a rich and vivid way to weave in essential backstory and add depth and texture to a story. But clumsily executed ones can be an eyeball-stopping intrusion that yanks readers right out of the story.

Learn exactly what flashbacks are—and aren’t—in this 75-minute class with career editor Tiffany Yates Martin, and how to incorporate them smoothly and effectively to more richly develop your characters and their arcs, heighten stakes, and deepen readers’ experience of your story.

Using examples from published novels and other storytelling mediums, we’ll look at what makes a flashback essential, and how good ones can add meaning and impact to the main story. You’ll learn the difference between flashback and other types of backstory, and how to assess whether and when flashbacks serve your story best—as well as how to draw readers smoothly and organically into and out of them without the “cheese factor” equivalent of an old-movie dissolve.

This class will explore:

  • How flashbacks differ from other backstory, and how to balance it with other types
  • The purpose of a flashback: what they do and don’t do
  • How to decide whether, where, and when to use flashback
  • How much to reveal as flashback and how much of it belongs in the main story
  • How to transition smoothly in and out of flashbacks without “hanging a lantern” on them or pulling readers out of the narrative flow
  • How point of view affects flashback (and vice versa)
  • Starting a story with flashback: is it a “cheat”?
  • How long should or can a flashback be?
  • Avoiding the flashback “rabbit hole”
  • How to format flashbacks

Who should take this class

  • Fiction writers in any genre, as well as memoirists
  • Writers who know they struggle with flashbacks or avoid them entirely
  • Writers who’ve been given feedback that their flashbacks are problematic

Who should not take this class

  • Writers who have already read books or taken extensive coursework on flashbacks and back story
  • Writers who feel entirely comfortable using flashbacks

What’s included in all of Jane’s classes

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology (see system requirements). You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Wednesday, May 4, 2022
  • Time: 1:00–2:15 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.

Tiffany Yates Martin

About the instructor

Tiffany Yates Martin has spent nearly thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers, and is the founder of FoxPrint Editorial and author of the bestseller Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. She’s led workshops and seminars for conferences and writers’ groups across the country and is a frequent contributor to writers’ sites and publications. Under the pen name Phoebe Fox, she’s the author of six novels, including The Way We Weren’t (Berkley/PRH).

Thank you for such a wonderful presentation! I was truly bowled over by how much information you are able to provide and how it clarified so many aspects of writing that have been causing confusion.

Barbara Solomon Josselsohn, author

This was great! Thanks so much for doing it! I loved the pace—there was a ton of material crammed into that webinar! So much great food for thought.

Erin S., student

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tiffany while president of Pikes Peak Writers, as well as president of Delve Writing. She’s everything you want in an instructor—brilliant, knowledgeable, professional, polished, dynamic, and charming. Plus she has the rare ability to make complex information easily accessible, and entertaining, too.

Chris Mandeville

All students receive the following

  • Access to the live class. After roughly 60 minutes, Tiffany will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
  • Flashback checklist: After the class, you’ll receive a list of questions to ask of each and every scene in your story

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.