Foreshadowing is a Great Way to Add Excitement to Your Stories
Foreshadowing creates excitement and anticipation for your readers. It makes your story more exhilarating to read. This device creates suspense and dramatic tension in your story. It sets up emotional expectations and will heighten your reader’s enjoyment.
Foreshadowing will keep your reader glued to your pages anticipating an exciting future event. It gives your reader an advance hint about what they can expect later in your story. Many writers use foreshadowing at the beginning of the story. Because it helps the reader develop expectations about the story. Other authors use foreshadowing at the beginning of a chapter to hook their readers and keep them flipping pages.
If this is a device you would like to learn, just keep reading.
Here Are 4 Basic Rules About Foreshadowing
Rule #1 When to Use Foreshadowing
Save foreshadowing for your most important events. Like any writing technique it can become boring if you attempt to use it too often. Not every event needs an early warning. But you should alert your readers to significant turning points in your story. It will keep your reader enthused.
When looking for places in your manuscript to use foreshadowing, seek events which create a major change of direction. That change can be in your characters or major plot point.
Another thing to look for, are events that might read strangely without some sort of buildup or preparation. Shocking events have their place in storytelling. But you don’t want to jar your reader in a way that makes the event unbelievable. This can be especially true in science fiction.
Rule #2 How to Foreshadow
You may be wondering what you may use to hint at a future event.
Here are a few examples:
Dialogue: “Before I’m finished, she will wish she had never been born.”
“This is insane, but I believe it must be done.”
“We may regret this decision.”
“I’m so excited I can’t sit still.”
Internal feelings: They lingered uncomfortable and uncertain.
He was thrilled and anxious to get started.
Something was not right but she could not decipher the danger.
Omens: A broken mirror or a picture
A Gypsy’s or other prophecy
A charm or voodoo doll
Weather: Black clouds set on fire by jagged lightning
Sunlight turning the autumn leaves golden
A cold wind blew across my face with icy fingers
Colors: The blood red sun emphasized the red on the pavement
A bluebird sang happily in the trees
The golden statue was covered in dust
Time: The sun was so oppressive, I could hardly think.
The dawn was breaking into a glorious morning
The dark of night seemed filled with foreboding
Settings: I felt sick as I crept across the battlefield
The swamp was covered in slime
A solitary figure walked down the shadowy path
If you want more ideas download our list of 168 words and phrases to use in foreshadowing.
Rule #3 Don’t Tease Your Reader
The purpose of foreshadowing is to keep your reader curious and turning pages to find out what happens. Be certain to make the buildup of your suspense live up to your readers expectations.
If you have raised your reader’s anticipation about something spectacular happening, be sure to give your readers a spectacular event.
You don’t ever want to excite your readers with hints that go nowhere.
Unfulfilled expectations and loose ends will frustrate your readers.
One trick might help. Try leaving all foreshadowing out of your first draft. Then when you revise your manuscript, weave it in.
Another consideration is: did your foreshadowing occur far enough in advance to warn your reader, but not so far in advance your reader forgets about it.
Rule #4 Get Feedback
Foreshadowing can be an especially tricky technique. We can do too much or too little. Or it can be put in the wrong place. Sometimes this device will make complete since to the reader but be confusing to the reader
I once read a book written in present tense. The author tried to foreshadow at the beginning of several chapters. It felt awkward. Because foreshadowing generally uses past tense. The sudden change in tense was jarring and the foreshadowing fell flat.
One of the hardest things we do, as writers, is to critique our own work. So, if you want to improve your writing, get feedback. The following are some websites you might want to check out.
These sites offer critiquing help:
Writing.com Free to join. A community of writers with many free tools, contests, and activities for writers.
Wattpad.com share your writing and read stories from other writers.
Scribophile.com is a writing group and online workshop where you can give and receive critiques from other writers.
Getunderlined.com you can connect with other writers and share your stories.
FMwriters.com has 20 critique circles, chats, discussion forums, and classes to help you write better.
John &Patty @writingagreatbook.com 2022
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