Foreshadowing

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When you write the first draft of a novel, you don’t always know what is going to figure large. This means that when you revise the novel, you must put in the foreshadowing.

Setting Up the Big Scenes

After you write the first draft, it’s time to go back and set up the big scenes by using foreshadowing. This is including elements that hint at what is to come, so that when it happens, the reader is both surprised and satisfied.

Ways to Foreshadow

  • Small to Large. Use the same element, but in a smaller incarnation. You might have a small argument which sets up a larger argument. Or it might be just a small dog that sets up a bigger one. The key is to set up a progression of some sort.
  • Dialogue. Often characters can talk about something, anticipating it. This sets up the character’s expectations and the event may twist those in unexpected ways. For example, a character might anticipate a dinner with an old friend and be shocked when it turns into a surprise birthday party. The key is to meet the reader’s expectations, but add a surprise.
  • Don’t give away everything. Be careful in foreshadowing not to give away everything that will happen, or the reader will soon stop reading. Hints. Curious glimpses. Dropping a line here and there. A light touch will serve best in foreshadowing. You want the reader to say, “Oh, of course, that had to happen.” But you also want the reader to be surprised at the scope, the details of the actual event, the way the event plays out, or the consequences of the event.

What’s your favorite way to foreshadow?
Any great examples of foreshadowing to share?

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