For the longest time, I had one character that was particularly gnawing at me. I only discussed him in flashback and I knew he needed to be brought to the present. Too many memories were holding my novel back, making it feel static, distancing it from the urgency of ‘now’. Taking him to the present in the edit has made all the difference and I now realize how someone can very easily transfer from past to present- a feat I thought was near impossible.
If someone is holding your main character back in the past, they can easily do the same in the present. If there’s a reason to remember them then, then there’s a reason to know them now. This was very eye opening for me. I have now taken all of my flashbacks and made them part of the action. It moves my novel forward at a better, more lively pace.
Given that I am learning so much about the writing and editing processes right now, I feel hesitant to give out advice. But, this was an incredibly useful discovery for me. When we’re writing, we know what’s important, even characters who we think belong in a memory. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for flashback. It’s a powerful tool and sometimes it works within a structure. It just didn’t work for me.
So, if you feel something is lagging, if a character or a place is very insistent in your story’s past, maybe they belong in the here and now. Try it. You can always hit the ‘undo’ button and put them back where they belong.