Quick tips: Foreshadowing
Foreshadowing is a method used to hint, or reference a future event in a story. When you foreshadow, you subtly plant hints or clues to a major event to take place.
Why do writers foreshadow?
I’ll admit that the idea of foreshadowing can seem kind of weird, mainly because you’re basically trying to tell your reader something big is going to happen but, without telling them what exactly is going to happen, and if that isn’t mind-boggling enough, you also have to do it subtly, so the audience doesn’t entirely know what’s going to happen. (But trust me, it isn’t as confusing as it sounds.)
So, it’s no surprise that it can raise questions such as:
“Well, I’m not writing a mystery novel, why would I plant clues? I’m writing a _____ kind of story. ”
“Why are you giving your readers clues to what’s going to happen to the story? Isn’t that like spoiling the story?
“How do I even foreshadow, or place hints???
-Well, to start, foreshadowing is not just for mystery novels, it’s a practice used in all genres, including romance, adventure, comedy, etc. It’s done in favorite books, it’s most likely done in your favorite movies, and it’ll probably be done after our timely passing on this earth.
-Next, Foreshadowing is very important, and even essential in some cases for formulating a great, coherent story.
Why? Well, here’s a scenario that may help explain it; let’s say someone in your novel; let’s say someone in your story gets murdered.
Let’s also say that the murder is his or her best friend (, because everybody loves a twist.)
Now, the best friend killed the character because motives that will be revealed later.
We have a cool plot twist, the reader is surprised, which is most likely the reaction you wanted, so the scene’s solid right?
The buildup is missing.
It hasn’t been established up to that point that the best friend would want, or even have the ability to murder. You can’t just have them hanging out together the day before, and then have one of them murder the other the next day.
If you don’t establish anything beforehand, your audience will just see it as poor writing, and you trying to throw something in just to get a reaction.
You need to justify how it could even happen in the first place, and you do this by making it a” possibility.” In other words, make it seem like something that could actually occur in the story.
You have to brainstorm, what could have happened to make the scene happen in the first place? Now let’s go back to my example of one of the friends murdering the other.
My brainstorming for what could have caused the scene would go something like this:
Did something happen while the two were hanging out? Did a bystander notice some strange behavior of the two the night before? Was there a falling out? How did he or she get the axe?
Then, I would start planning what took place before the skirmish, based off of those questions. There are so many things that you can make happen before the big scene to allude to it.
There are many ways you can cleverly plant details to foreshadow in your story, I won’t go too much further into it on this post, I will give some tips you might want to remember before you foreshadow a scene:
-Plan it out-
Be sure of what you’re foreshadowing. When do you want the main event to happen? How are you going to hint to it so it seems plausible that it could actually happen?
Don’t dump too many hints all at once. If you do, they may clog ruin the pace of your story, take away from the actual plot or premise, or even cause your reader to miss an important hint because it was too cluttered with other hints. Space them out, and give the reader time to let the clues sink in.
Don’t be too obvious-
Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your readers, make it reasonable enough for them to notice, but not enough for them to roll their eyes, or get annoyed by the constant bombardment of clues.
You can tell if your foreshadowing is just subtle enough by putting yourself in the place of reader. When going over your manuscript, try to picture how they would see it, as a person with little to no knowledge of what’s going to take place.
Or, you can get some beta readers to check out your script, have them read your manuscript, and ask them about what they thought about the hints. Beta readers can be found virtually everywhere, and don’t ask for payment in return.
That’s all for now on foreshadowing! (It’s quite the topic.) Did you like this post? Or was I too vague or confusing in a few areas? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Until next time!