Foreshadowing. How to feed a coincidental end to your reader and still keep them thrilled with your book.
I remember reading a celebrated author’s book, I loved it until I read the resolution. All I could think was WHAT HAPPENDED THERE? In the end I was pretty pissed and wondered why I had bothered investing my money and time in a book where the author had relied on such a sloppy coincidence.
Of course, coincidence happens whether you call them that or law of attraction. But your readers need to believe the coincidences when they look back through the pages and find the light-handed hints or references sprinkled in.
What is ForeShadowing?
It’s a gift to be able to do it well. Joslyn Chase author of suspense thrillers says:
“When you need to introduce something into your story that feels dangerously close to coincidence, you need a subtle way to give your readers just enough information at just the right moment. In short, you need foreshadowing. Every significant object, person, or fact needs to be planted in the story before it can be credibly used, and everything that’s planted must come into play or it buzzes at the corner of a reader’s subconscious like an annoying housefly.”
Whist writing the River Rule series I had begun writing the second book before publishing the first. Therefore was able to rewrite parts to make foreshadowing more subtle or at least I think I did.
I used techniques like :
- Mirroring: Allowing Una to remember moments when she picked locks on her father’s drinks cabinet and the ones on the doors of unused warehouses, made it more than plausible that she successfully picked the simple lock on her grandfather’s gate to escape the jungle’s creatures.
- Sometimes my character used a throwaway comment which would seem like small talk but later is evident that its far more significant. I introduced The River Rule in such a manner.
- Environment: The curfew that is the forced environment in the twilight hours allowed for all sort of possibilities due to its ambience. The reader read text with trepidation expecting hostile creatures to come at the protagonists from the dark. The same goes for the howls that sounded like wolf but not quite. The uneasiness and knowing looks of the characters added to the believability of River Rule’s ending.
- Irony: In both books the reader understands the irony between what the characters believe is the truth and what the actual state of affairs are.
- Symbolism: I’ve used symbolism like the locket, the letter, Avi’s hair and Una’s love of parkour to make the events conceivable.
- Character names: I gave a character the name Gag because he made those in his company gag in disgust and in horror at his small-minded evilness.
All the categories named are based on Joslyn’s list and I hope they are useful.
Want more information?
Whilst I was unlucky not to read Foreshadowing: Definition and Examples of the Literary Term by Joslyn Chase until two days ago I have used her categories to explain what I have done in my books, published and unpublished to support my readers writing.
I hope this post ignites or contributes to your interest in foreshadowing. If you try the techniques, please feel that you can add your experience in the comments below. Perhaps you have your own tried and tested forms of foreshadowing not mentioned here that you would like to share.
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Ameeta – author of the River Rule Series.