I Have Fingers of Thunder

Johny Thundersbeard does not procrastinate about writing

Making Words Count: Flashback Sequences

Last night, on a whim, I started a random story. I wrote 226 words before my nerves got the better of me. It was trash, but it was meant to be trash.

Here is a good example of an author, D.H Lawrence in this case, executing a small flashback sequence in a perfected manner. Note, the immediacy of it.

“The kitchen was full of the scent of boiled herbs and hops. On the hob a large black saucepan steamed slowly. Mrs Morel took a panchion, a great bowl of thick red earth, streamed a heap of white sugar into the bottom, and then, straining herself to the weight, was pouring in the liquor.
Just then Morel came in. He had been very jolly in the Nelson, but coming home had grown irritable. He had not quite got over the feeling of irritability and pain, after having slept on the ground when he was so hot; and a bad conscience afflicted him as he neared the house. He did not know he was angry. But when the garden-gate resisted his attempts to open it, he kicked it and broke the latch. He entered just as Mrs Morel was pouring the infusion of herbs out of the saucepan. Swaying slightly, he lurched against the table. The boiling liquor pitched, Mr Morel started back.”

It is of course from Sons & Lovers, and the flashback sequence of Mr.Morel’s approach to the house (and his thoughts and feelings while doing so) is seemless. It’s a flashback without reading like a flashback, and anyone attempting to write a flashback sequence could do worse then to flashback to this sequence for a good example on how to pull one off.


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