Foreshadowing

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Black and white photo with the shadows of trees reaching out to the erected wind turbines in the distance

A Foreshadowing by viennacafe CC 3.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/viennacafe/5865026611

A while ago, someone from one of my writing groups asked if I would be interested in exchanging larger pieces of work. Since the group normally looks at 5 pages, we see individual scenes, but not how they flow together.

I was thrilled with this suggestion and had been thinking of trying to find yet another group I could do this with. But exchanging with people I already work with is MUCH easier!

One of the comments I received was that the reader wanted foreshadowing early. I hadn’t realized that I hadn’t done any foreshadowing. What I had thought was foreshadowing, upon further inspection, wasn’t. I had comments that could be taken one way without the knowledge of the soon-to-be-revealed-secret and taken another way with that knowledge. AND those comments are after the 25 page limit that we’d set for each other’s pieces.

I’m not saying that I need to insert foreshadowing by page ten or five or any specific number, but I am trying to get a feel for how early is right. I rarely read the same books twice, so I don’t have a cache of books I can point to and say “ah, they did it here.” And when I’m reading a book for the first time, I don’t do a good job of reading like a writer. I don’t necessarily notice when, where and how events are foreshadowed. Maybe 26 pages in is just right.

I’m also struggling on the foreshadowing itself. Everything I think of is far too heavy-handed. As a reader, I do like stumbling upon foreshadowing, thinking I’m the only one who figured it out because of this clue. How do you write it obvious enough for a reader to see it, but not obvious enough that it hits them over the head. Ah, fine lines.

How do you handle foreshadowing in your stories? What books do you think do a particularly good job of foreshadowing?

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4 thoughts on “Foreshadowing

  1. That’s a good idea. I picked up a book I loved in high school and am noticing the foreshadowing. however, I’m also questioning my high school tastes. The book is OK, but I remember being swept away!

      • The Child of Saturn, the first in the The Green Lion Trilogy by Teresa Edgerton (link: http://teresaedgerton.com/books-child.htm). Knights and magic. I swooned for Ceilyn mac Cuel. I read quite a bit of fantasy when I was in middle school. Then, in high school, I moved on and was slightly obsessed with The X-Files…so I was all about magical and paranormal. My first full length manuscript was a fantasy and yet nothing I write now reflects that past. How odd.

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