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Writing tip – How to Foreshadow

The art of foreshadowing is subtle, and yet it’s also a craft that will add depth to your story. Foreshadowing can create atmosphere and cohesion between different parts of your story, by setting up the oncoming events to build expectation and keep your readers invested in the story. Though it is a vital aspect of story crafting, writers may struggle with using it to its full advantage.

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What is foreshadowing?

Foreshadowing prepares the reader, if only subconsciously, for what is to unravel in the story later. It is not out-rightly revealing. The difference is subtlety. Its about hinting, laying bread-crumbs to guide the reader towards the outcome. That way, your readers still gains the element of surprise, but they don’t feel cheated.

One of the most important places to add foreshadowing is undoubtedly the first chapter. Here you should use foreshadowing to ease the transition between the setup and big plot points. It sets the tone for the rest of the novel, and adds clues as to what’s about to transpire. Whether your world has magic, death, or romance. A single sentence, the setting or perhaps even a symbol, will deliberately create dimension within the story.

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This is important for two reasons: Firstly, to satisfy the reader with the payoff by delivering on earlier promises. Meaning, anything set up in Act One, should come about in the Final Act. And secondly, to lead the reader to conclusions about the rest of the story. Meaning, if you introduce two main characters for romance, make sure you deliver on their Happy Ever After or Happy For Now sending.

Remember: its a subtle hint, not an outright telling. You can hint at the theme, reveal the tone of the story through setting, or even have it mentioned through dialogue. For example: If your heroine is about to set off an an epic adventure, having a side character hint at their Character arc, is a clever way of feeding the reader information, without being too overt.

All foreshadowing needs the payoff or promise delivery. So only include pieces that are relevant, and significant to prevent the reader from feeling confused or cheated out of a story line. Foreshadowing prevents coincidental reveals, a sudden or unexpected shift in tone, and outlandish plot twists.

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Any subplots can be delicately foreshadowed in later chapters. These can be hidden in the story (slightly invisible and almost forgettable), so that the reader won’t even pick up on them. These are indirect foreshadowing, such as symbols, or a banal statement, and are usually only realized once the promise has been fulfilled.

Foreshadowing is a skill and usually takes time to understand, and or develop in your writing. Often foreshadowing is added into the story at the revision stage. Once you’ve written the whole story, you can better understand what influences the direction of your story and where to place the hints, and promises, to prevent coincidences. Carefully, precisely and artfully, layering the foreshadowing to give the reader cohesion and satisfaction.

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Do you have any tips on foreshadowing? Perhaps you are still developing the skill in your writing and would like to understand the topic more. Please share your thoughts, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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How to Write Rich and Vivid Settings

The setting of your novel is just as important as character development and dialogue. It needs to accurately reflect the period or define the world-building making it as vibrating and sensory as possible. It’s much more than painting a picture, its a fine art of evoking the five senses to bring the story alive, immersing the reader into the world you’ve created.

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Whilst it’s tempting to fill your pages with purple prose and lengthy descriptions, be mindful that those approaches tend to bog a story down. Foreshadowing is a great tool that allows the writer to drip feed upcoming events; a carefully placed dagger might elude to a murder or a broken lock might reveal how a derelict house is broken into. However, relevance is vital, if that dagger isn’t going to be used to drive the plot forward don’t use it for the sake of embellishing a scene. Aside from the odd red herring to mislead your reader, everything should have a purpose, even if it is only to show how affluent your character is or to reveal aspects of their personality.

To help develop the story and anchor the reader, include details such as the time of day, weather, place, or season. For example: An apple tree in early bloom would hint at spring. Some of the specifics could be done through character description and clothing, but others can be hinted at while your character moves through the setting. Instead show the streetlamps flaring to life as the sun dips below the high-rise buildings. Perhaps car lights reflect off of the slick tarmac to reveal a rainy night.

Another great writing technique is to add symbolism, we see symbols every day and take them for granted: A heart means love. Red signals passion or anger. And even names and places can have a meaning behind them. We can go further using similes, such as, as brave as a lion. Or by using metaphors: Imagine a character returning home to take care of an elderly parent, to find their childhood farm in a run-down dilapidated condition, much like the health of their loved one.

Use the landscape or worldbuilding as an obstacle for your character to overcome. An anxious character might fear large cities full of people. What would happen if he had to travel to a big city to meet with his dream agent? OK, so that’s one of my potential obstacles, but you can start to understand how facing that fear would be a great challenge.

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Lastly, let’s not forget the advantages the five senses play when crafting a novel. They can be used to foreshadow, show the passing of time, reveal landscapes that build plot and play with symbolism. But never underestimate the importance of evoking emotions in your readers, all of which can be done by arousing the five senses as the character’s move through the story.

 

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

What technique do you need to work on? And which is your preferred method of evoking emotions in your reader? Please comment, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.