Let’s say you had a particularly frightening or traumatic experience.
The FIRST time you tell someone about it:
“I’m driving down Vine Street, minding my own business, when out of NOWHERE this HUGE SUV runs a red light and SMASHES into me!”
But after years of telling that story, the drama in your voice disappears:
“Someone said you once were in a bad car accident.”
“Yeah. Years ago. Some idiot ran a red light and t-boned my Chevy Impala. Destroyed my car…and I had wear a neck brace for 3 months….”
(If you want to get deep into the how-the-brain-works weeds: At that point, you’re not remembering the incident itself. You’re remembering yourself telling people about it.)
If a character is relating an incident that occurred long ago, they don’t add drama to “NOWHERE” or “HUGE SUV” or “SMASHES.”
In this clip from The Rockford Files, James Garner demonstrates what I mean.