What is Foreshadowing?

 

Foreshadowing Tips

by Bob Bruggemann

Wikipedia says foreshadowing is a literary device in which an author suggests certain plot developments that might come later in the story. This is an example of foreshadowing:

Sam thought about what the perpetrator said. It was nothing he hadn’t heard before; he’d been threatened many times. The light turned green and he swung around the corner. His eyes panned down the quiet block of single family homes and he knew something was wrong.  His partner’s house was dark and so was his. Sam rolled up to the curb and turned off the engine. Leaving his cap on the passenger seat, he pulled out his service revolver, loaded a round into the chamber, and cautiously stepped out of the car.   

Sam’s actions give a blatant description of what could happen next. The reader has been forewarned that something might be wrong.  It could be a false alarm or it could be something devastating. Only time will tell.

The reader will fall into this trap easily and without suspicion. It’s perfectly natural for a man to enter a tense and dangerous situation with his gun drawn… but suppose he enters the foyer, the lights suddenly come on, and he hears:

“Surprise! Happy birthday, Honey!”  He found a room full of neighbors in the living room, holding up drinks for a toast. The joy faded as they focused on Sam’s cocked 9mm pistol.

This scenario is a variation of foreshadowing called “misdirection” or otherwise known as a “Red Herring.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreshadowing for more examples on the following:   

o   Premonition

o   Master patterning

o   Red herring (misdirection)

o   Prophecy’s and omens

As an author, you control your world, along with everyone and everything in it.  Never be afraid to experiment and push your muse to the limit. There are no limitations to your imagination. Use red herrings and foreshadowing to great advantage.

For more great writing tips, get The Writer’s Choice Newsletter at http://www.creativewritinginstitute.com.

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