Definition and Structure of Flashback in Scriptwriting

Definition and Structure of Flashback in Scriptwriting

Flashback is a wonderful tool writers use to improve the atmosphere of a movie. Aspiring writers are warned against using it due to the abnormality of how it’s being abuse by upcoming or newbie writers. It can be a wonderful tool that shows transparency in a movie and it can be used in a fantastic way.

What is Flashback?

Flashback is a scene(s) that reveal or show an event that occurred or happened earlier in the story. It interrupts the chronological arrangement of the script with the sole aim of shining light on past events in the storyline.

A flashback is a transparency tool that gives the audience past events that are needed for the development of the story and for the clarification of the character’s actions. Flashback can be used when a character recalls past events that are of great significance to the present moment and also the development of the movie.

Function of Flashback

  • Flashback bring light to hidden past event that will contribute to the present scene and the story as a whole
  • Flashback in script can take the reader to the character’s mind.
  • It is a wonderful tool used by writer to  show more transparency in the story.
  • Flashback in a movie script can be a tool of clarification of intent.


The structure or format of flash depends on the writer and the number of scenes that are to be written. For a flashback with more than one scene, the writer must insert the line “BEGIN FLASHBACK” (All in CAPS and without quotation marks) in the action line. This will indicate that the flashback has started.  Before inserting “BEGIN FLASHBACK” give a line spacing and after inserting it, give the same line spacing before the scene heading.  Any line spacing you give before inserting the “BEGIN FLASHBACK”  must be the same line spacing you must give before the scene heading.

Definition and Structure of Flashback in Scriptwriting

In a Flashback, every scene must have its own scene heading even if the flashback occurs in the same location of the character who is experiencing the flashback.

After writing out the flashback scenes, Insert “END FLASHBACK” (All in CAPS and without quotation marks) This will take the reader back to the present scene before the flashback. It is incorrect for writers to insert “BACK TO SCENE” the reason is that there are scenes in flashback so after the end of the flashback there must be a new scene heading (which is the same scene before the flashback).

Definition and Structure of Flashback in Scriptwriting

Another acceptable format of writing a flashback is writing the “(FLASHBACK)” at the last part of scene heading. This is only allowed in a flashback that has only one scene.

The above structure also can be used for dream or fantasy scenes. Writers need to be creative enough to have good use of Flashback.

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