Today I’m going to talk about a writing technique called foreshadowing. I like to think of this technique as teasing the reader. It propels the story forward with dialogue and imagery and is an excellent way to create tension and build suspense. This technique adds depth to any work of fiction and when well executed, gives the reader a hint or clue of what’s to come.
I think the best foreshadowing is subtle and goes unnoticed by the reader. When the climax occurs, the reader recalls details that that have been placed throughout the story. Foreshadowing builds anticipation and tension throughout the narrative and makes the climax bigger. It can also be used to prepare the reader for a twist to the story.
Foreshadowing is when you’re telling a story to a friend and you say to them: ‘Don’t worry, you’ll thank me for this later.’ Saying this means you are hoping a foreshadowing of gratitude for something you’ve done for them.
Tarot cards are another example because they are used to foreshadow future events.
Mystery and Crime Writers
Mystery writers use foreshadowing by giving hints as to what the mystery might be. Similarly, crime writers use foreshadowing by giving clues as to who did the crime. They know the reader will be trying to work it out as they read and so the writer will often throw in a red herring to throw the reader off guard.
When you are plotting your outline my advice is to think like a gardener when he’s planting seeds. You’ll need to work out where to scatter your seeds i.e. hints/clues for the best results.