Back to our regularly scheduled program: perfect verbs.
Last time I reviewed the basic meaning of perfect tense (something that begins in the past and continues to the time of the tense--past, present, or future) and the basic use of perfect (have + past participle).
One of the coolest uses of perfect tenses is changing time between flashbacks. This practical use smoothly transitions between time, and when done well, readers don't even notice you are doing this.
When you follow this "rule of 3," it might look something like this:
Linda and I walked to the store, checking our watches. She worried about getting back to her house to plug in her phone for when she thought her son Brian would call.
Brian had moved to California years ago, shortly after Linda's other son, and Brian's brother had died. Brian had ended up living in a motel and did lots of heroin and who knows what other drugs. Brian straightened up for awhile, moved to San Francisco, and got a good job. He came out to visit last summer, and Linda seemed happy.
Recently, Brian had moved to LA. He had started using again and had moved into some horrible motel. I spent time with Linda, listening and trying to support her, but really, I couldn't do anything to help. Mostly, I tried to help her forget that she waited for him to call because he rarely did.
Seem easy? It is!