Foreshadowing is a clever and useful technique you can add to your novel.
I’ve been asked to write about this a few times so decided today was the day to discuss it in a blog post.
What is Foreshadowing?
Let’s cover the basics, what exactly is foreshadowing? It’s a technique used by writers where they give indications of something to come later in the novel.
It’s a great way to get your readers aware and on the lookout for something. These indications are usually in the early chapters.
Why is Foreshadowing used?
Foreshadowing allows an author to create suspense or tension in their novel. These hints of what’s to come, that are dropped in early can often linger with the reader.
Sometimes they can even be missed and then when the future event happens, there is that a-ha moment when the reader remembers back to some point at the beginning.
Types of Foreshadowing?
This is where an event or outcome is directly suggested. For example, a girlfriend telling her boyfriend that she is worried about his new job as a security guard. He brushes off her concern with a smile, stating it’s a simple job with almost no excitement.
Pretty clear that the upcoming event will show his job is anything but simple and boring.
It’s where the author has highlighted something vaguely with a brief mention. This is often used with weapons or objects. Such as a glancing comment at the antique fire poker used in decoration around a fireplace that no longer works.
This is often a hint of an event that will take place further down the line, where that poker will feature.
They are considered subtle as many readers see them as just parts of the description and don’t always connect it as a piece of foreshadowing until they reach the part where the poker comes into play.
Chekov’s Gun (after the playwright Anton Chekov) is considered a subtle foreshadowing.
Throughout the world, there are many symbols that are seen by different cultures to mean the same thing (though no all).
Whether it’s the “black cat” that heralds bad luck or the “solitary raven” the suggests a coming death or “coming storm” that predicts an argument or “chill that marches down your spine” that suggests something bad will happen.
We are designed to see symbols and associate them with something. These can be a great method of foreshadowing.
Simply put prophecy is used in a story to suggest an upcoming event. It is usually kept vague allowing it to come true but often not in the way that is expected or assumed by the reader.
Is Foreshadowing always negative?
No, this literary device can be used for both positive and negative events, situations etc. It’s simply about hinting at something to some.
While the negative is more likely as we writers seem to like building up that aching tension and making our readers worry about the horrid thing their favourite character is walking in to, it’s not a given.
Rules for Foreshadowing
Want to make foreshadowing work well in your novel? Check out this infographic by NowNovel.com that depicts these “8 Laws of Foreshadowing”.
Do you put foreshadowing in your novel?