In the past, I had some huge problems bringing scenes to life, particularly those introducing back story. Back story’s always tricky. The reader may need the background information, but often the reader will wish to remain in the present.
Placing a section of writing in italics doesn’t necessarily help, as the change of font might come between the reader and the text. Also, some readers will hurry over passages in italics, missing bits the writer has worked hard on.
I think the solution could lie in having short sections dealing with the back story questions at the start of chapters and keeping to a simple tone for immediacy.
The following is a brief snatch of one of the back story sections in my second novel, a psychological thriller introducing central character Alan Holmes, a former amateur rugby player who witnessed a murder when he was ten but has few recollections of the event. In the past, I relied on the use of flashbacks, but these don’t always work.
They say I led the way up Whaley Hill, telling ghost stories as I steered my bike up the twisting path. That Gordon got angry at the top of the hill and stormed off in tears because Callum and Shane had upset him. I went after Gordon and brought him back to the reservoir. He wouldn’t stop crying, but I remember none of it.
For me, there was only confusion. Occasional glimpses of trees in the stillness while the sun beat down upon my head and the sweat poured down my face, onto my t-shirt. I think I took my t-shirt off, but I can’t be sure about that, as witnesses saw me with it on later.