How To Write a Flashback in a Screenplay

Unleash the Power of Flashbacks in your Screenplay: Tips & Tricks You Need!

Flashbacks are like a secret weapon in the writer’s armoury, helping you punctuate your screenplay with rousing moments that your audience will never forget. However, using them gratuitously can spell doom. But no worries! In this article, we will guide you, with some fantastic examples from movies, through nifty techniques to insert a flashback into your script with the utmost ease.

Section 1: When to Use Flashbacks:

Flashbacks can be blessings in disguise if used wisely, whereas overdoing them can be a curse. As such, only include flashbacks when they serve a purpose, allowing you to reveal character motivations, create suspense and tension, and add gravitas to your plot.

Section 2: Formatting Flashbacks:

Formatting becomes paramount in a script, particularly when you introduce flashbacks. For instance, simply using a slug line that reads “Flashback to” or “Flashback:” can get the message across. Moreover, utilising visual cues like dissolves or fades to black can enhance the viewer’s experience. We will show you how to do this right.

Section 3: Writing Memorable Flashback Scenes:

The dialogue and action in a flashback scene should match the timeline of when it takes place. Ensuring it flows seamlessly into the present action is also key in providing viewers with a cinematic and smooth experience.

Section 4: The Crème de la Crème of Flashback Examples:

We dissect two of the most impeccable uses of flashbacks in movies, “The Shawshank Redemption,” where Andy Dufresne’s past is shrouded in mystery, and “Memento,” with a non-chronological narrative, creating a unique flow of events that can leave your audience gasping and grasp in awe.



25  INT. LEONARD’S APARTMENT – DAY <<COLOUR SEQUENCE>> 25Random images of a woman (30’s, black hair, plain). Jump cuts of details: a smile, eating, tucking her hair behind her ear, pulling on a pair of trousers, watching TV, shouting in anger. Sitting on the edge of the bed in her underwear, she TURNS as Leonard pinches her thigh.


Used correctly, flashbacks can elevate your screenplay and give audiences a cinematic experience that they will cherish. However, they should only be sparingly used when they help to advance the plot or deepen audience’s understanding of the characters. With our guidelines, not only can you add depth and complexity to your screenplay, but perhaps discover a new and exciting way to tell your story.

William Robert Rich
William Robert Rich

William Robert Rich is a story analyst, screenwriter, and co-author of Story Maps: The Films of Christopher Nolan. He's currently based in Austin, Texas.

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