In fiction, flashbacks are scenes that take place in the past (i.e. not current/running story time) and some readers (supposedly) hate them so much they skip them.
Here’s a great “flashback” from L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, on “…the constant struggle between the efforts to entertain and the efforts to spread a message.” Even if you’re the kind of reader that skips flashbacks, don’t skip this one. 🙂
I have to admit, the last person I thought I’d see with an essay in Ardeur: 14 Writers on the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series was L. Jagi Lamplighter.
I’d read several of the books in the Anita Blake series after a co-worker got me hooked. I did not stay a devotee of the series. I honestly can’t recall where the series lost me, and I really didn’t think much of it. Most series romances lose me a few books in. “It’s not you. It’s me.” Honest.
Lamplighter was someone whose reputation I was aware of and whose short stories I’ve enjoyed. I may or may not have read her back when I was reading just for pleasure (and the fact that I can’t recall if I had or hadn’t isn’t noteworthy either, trust me–ask me what I had for dinner last night; go ahead, I dare you!). I do miss the days when I never had to worry about reading-as-a-writer. Reading-as-a-reader is more fun. Honestly, if you love reading, and you’re considering writing, turn back now. “Danger, Will Robinson, danger.” (This is not a condition unique to writing. Beware of turning any avocation into a vocation.) But, I digress…
This enlightening essay is called “Dating the Monsters: Why It Takes a Vampire or a Wereguy to Win the Heart of the Modern It Girl” and here’s a woefully brief excerpt. To my happy surprise, said essay wasn’t about the failings of men. I almost did a happy dance.
Lamplighter offers tremendous insight into what sweeps Romance readers off their collective feet and how the “needs of drama” differ from the “needs of culture.”
I agree that these needs have been at war and I think they’ve claimed the metaphorical lives of many stories that would’ve otherwise been great. And not just in Romance (or in romance) but in all kinds of fiction.
In short–so that you’ll seek it out for yourself and benefit from Lamplighter’s extremely well-written reasoning–this essay is about what makes happy readers. So, if you’ve just finished the latest “must read” with the fastest, smartest, biggest, baddest, kickass female protagonist out there, and you’re wondering what that awful aftertaste is all about, then set aside some time for this lone gem of literary criticism and insight.