How to use a Flash-forward
The most important thing to remember when using a flash-forward is that it must actually move the narrative forward in time. Accordingly, to use a flash-forward, the author must create a scene that takes place in the future. Usually, flash-forwards reveal some sort of action that will occur later in the story. A flash-forward should not paint a complete picture of what is to come; partial picture, whose entirety will be revealed in full detail later on. Flash-forwards are presented in several typical ways, such as:
- a character’s ability to predict or see the future
- a prophecy coming to life
- a vision of a certain future that represents consequences
- a vision of the future that is possible to alter through a character’s actions
- a character’s hallucinated or imagined image of future events
- as consequences that question morality
As mentioned above, most stories strive not to reveal anything about the future, relying on the audience’s desire to see the outcome of a narrative. Flash-forwards break apart this idea by revealing what will happen, which instead creates anticipation surrounding how an event will happen.
When to use a Flash-forward
Flash-forwards are used when an author wants provide some the audience with some insight about the present or cause anticipation about what they know is coming in the future. Elements of a story that may seem trivial or boring can be made more interesting by revealing what will happen to them in the future. A flash-forward should make the audience feel more invested in the storyline because they know what is going to happen to important characters, places, and things; thus, they want to see how they get there. Flash-forwards are generally most valuable in fiction—since we cannot predict the future. However, it is possible to use flash-forwards in nonfiction, in depictions of historical events, for example.