The Mechanics of Flashback // Webinar

Turning to the Past to Shape Your Prose

The Mechanics of Flashback // Webinar

The past can be overwhelming; it’s difficult to integrate the past and present in life, let alone in writing.

Flashbacks can add texture and contribute to important character development, but in writing, it’s always a risk to jump away from an active scene.

We want to avoid writing that confuses the reader with mismanaged information, messy transitions, or jarring leaps through time. But work that never attempts any movement across time can be equally problematic, failing to provide readers with necessary context or information. There are many ways to go wrong, so let’s look at how to get it right.

During this sixty-minute webinar, we will examine successful flashbacks and pinpoint their strengths so that you will come away with a practical set of tools to accomplish seamless leaps in time in your own writing.

Using texts by Joy Castro, Kathleen Finneran, George Hodgman, Melissa Febos, Alison Bechdel, Francisco Cantú, Diane Seuss, Kiese Laymon, and Cheryl Strayed, we will identify various ways authors utilize the flashback in their work and discuss strategies for our own work.

In this webinar, you will:

  • CONSIDER the value of flashback as part of the texture of creative nonfiction
  • IDENTIFY various types of flashback in creative nonfiction by reading a range of examples by a diverse group of writers
  • LEARN ways to identify and avoid flashback pitfalls in your own work.

There will be time for Q & A at the end of the presentation. 

This webinar is ideal for anyone who writes in prose, whether you are at the beginning of your career or already have a long publishing record. The only requirement is the desire to think carefully about ways to write across time. Ideally, you will want to grapple with ways to include narrator or character backstory. Maybe you need help framing or foregrounding a scene in a way that makes it possible to include flashback. We’ll be answering the questions, What is a flashback and why is turning to the past useful in helping to shape our work?

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

2 pm - 3:05 pm Eastern Time

Advance registration required.
Space is limited.
To request closed-captioning, email

$15 if registered by 2/28/2021
$25 if registered after 2/28/2021

Registration will close 24 hours before the event.

A recording of the webinar will be sent out to all registrants three business days after the event.

PLEASE NOTE: It may take a little while for us to process your order and send you the link to the webinar. If you haven't received the link by the morning of the date of the webinar, please email us at

About the instructor: Gabe Montesanti is a queer, Midwestern, roller derby player. She earned her BA in mathematics and studio art from Kalamazoo College and her MFA in creative nonfiction from Washington University in St. Louis. She serves as a mentor for the PEN Prison Writing Program, teaches creative writing at St. Louis Community College and The Loft Literary Center, and has had work published in Creative Nonfiction, Belt Magazine, Brevity, the Offing, and Boulevard. Her piece “The Worldwide Roller Derby Convention” was recognized as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2020. She skates for Arch Rival Roller Derby in St. Louis under the name Joan of Spark; her roller derby memoir, Brace for Impact, is forthcoming from the Dial Press in 2022.

Questions? Please call us at 412-404-2975 or email the director of education, Sharla Yates, at