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Sarah Daffy

How do you foreshadow well?

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I use a tarp, 10x20, everybody holds it above their head as they're walking away from the sun/light. 😆

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I had a little route through my writing books and guess what - not one of them mention foreshadowing.  Yet it is a technique used by writers of all mediums.

 

It is the gun in an early scene that reappears as the murder weapon towards the end in a movie or novel.

 

It is the season or landscape that the camera  sweeps over which the m/c returns to.

 

OK, just some obvious ones.  It is difficult.   I have needed to do it a couple of times. The difficulty I see is how not to make it too obvious  or too well hidden that your reader miss it.

 

Anyone else.

 

 

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Like Shamrock, I have take several passes at it in a draft. 

 

What's the point of foreshadowing? What do we, as writers, try to achieve by using it? The entire aim is to have the climax set up so that when it happens, when the antagonist reveals their plot or the main character reveals their strength, the readers can look back and see how everything pointed to that ending. 

 

I find that for myself, I have to complete a draft in order to know what elements I need to set up for that climax. Do I need to establish why burning something down is important, or a character's dislike of another? Do I need to set up the fighting skills of someone, or that their dog will growl at anyone who doesn't like it? 

 

I think the Sherlock Holmes stories are brilliant examples of this. As the readers, we see everything that Sherlock sees but, like Watson, are left in the dark as to what all those things mean. Yet, when Sherlock explains everything, we look back and go, "ah yes, I see". More examples are Agatha Christie's works, her characters Miss Marple and Hercule Peroit. Also the TV series Columbo. Actually, any mystery story will be an excellent study in foreshadowing. 

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I either build things into my novels by design on a first pass (as when I wrote a Steampunk series and depicted a shadow of a great winged bird passing by overhead in the first paragraph and revealed much later that the flying thing wasn't a robot flying overhead and not an albatross).

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Think of facets on a gem. Foreshadowing means to show seeminlgy unrelated facets that only cohere near the end. The key is to make the clues of a very different sort. One clue can relate to number, another to color. Throw in time, a scent, a newspaper clipping... 

 

Use focus. When a character finds something important, so will the reader.

 

Use misdirection. The heroine is taken by the brooch, but the hidden message is in the panel under the jewelry box. Focus on thde wrong thing that is next to the right thing.

 

Use repetition. When the same item or place or thing is introduced into multiple scenes, its importance is elevated. 

 

Use loss. Just as the importance of an item becomes clear, it is lost or stolen, prolonging the suspense.

 

Use metaphor. The clue and the reality are only connected when a word puzzle is solved. 

 

Use unexpected literalism. Someone is taunting the hero with a commonplace phrase that will give it all away if they see through the metaphor. The villain tells the cop,  "You'll make Detective someday. Then you'll be Snug as a bug in a rug." The dead body is in the trunk of a VW bug, wrapped in a rug.

 

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

What's the point of foreshadowing? What do we, as writers, try to achieve by using it? The entire aim is to have the climax set up so that when it happens, when the antagonist reveals their plot or the main character reveals their strength, the readers can look back and see how everything pointed to that ending. 

 

Well said, Claire!

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Everyone on here has good advice! I think it would be difficult to do all of your foreshadowing in your first draft so don't worry about getting in perfect. You have lots of time. Build up your foreshadowing more and more though each draft, and ask your beta readers how they felt about it, too. This can help you know how to make edits. 

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