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.
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.
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.
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.
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.