This week: Leaving Little Clues Edited by: Choconut ~ Busy Writing!
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|Hello and welcome, dear readers, to the Drama Newsletter. My name is Choconut ~ Busy Writing! , and I am your guest editor for this edition. This is my first newsletter, so, please, be gentle with me. I love drama, both reading and writing it, and I want to share a few of my thoughts regarding the art of foreshadowing as I believe this is a great way to hold your readers' attention.|
Leaving Little Clues
As NaNoWriMo approaches, many of us are planning and preparing for our month-long marathons where we attempt to write a whole novel in thirty days. Whatever genre you write, you will need to include an element of drama. Drama is the key that winds a story through the various chapters and landscapes. It creates anticipation and interest in your reader and keeps them hooked once they step inside. Whether you write epic fantasies with intricate, far-reaching plots or romances where your readers long for your characters to get together, you must give your readers some signposts to the story's big events and themes. Your reader needs expectations, or they won't care enough to turn the pages.
And so, I come to foreshadowing. The Oxford English Dictionary definition is: "Be a warning or indication of (a future event).” This literary device can be created through character dialogues, events, actions, or experiences. You can even use chapter titles to give an indication of what is to come. The following list gives a brief description of the main methods we can employ when we come to writing our stories.
Imagine a story where your character decides to start life afresh in a different city. They pack up their old car which, when they start it up, splutters and sounds rough. It chugs always with your character’s entire life inside. Okay, so the car starts, but the reader understands this new life may be rocky with a touch of trouble. Pre-scenes are not significant by themselves, but they tease the reader into wanting to read what happens next.
Naming An Approaching Event
This is probably the least subtle method. You, the author, give your reader details of upcoming events. So, for example, you could write something like: “Jack checked the time on the invitation. 8 pm. For the tenth time that hour, he wondered why he ever agreed to attend the engagement party for his best friend and the love of his life.” This creates curiosity in the reader about what will happen at the party and why the love of Jack's life is with his best friend, and not with him.
Showing A Character's Irrational Concern or Apprehension
The key is to ensure you use any character's apprehension wisely. While, in real life, people worry over nothing a lot of the time, that is not the case in fiction. Worries have to be for a reason. When your character is apprehensive or anxious about something, then your reader will be, too. Show your character sweating or repeatedly glancing at the clock. By showing their worried state of mind, your readers will prickle with anticipation.
As with naming an upcoming event, concrete foreshadowing shows the reader something you need them to see. For example, your character walks the length of their hallway and stops to stare at the photo of their wedding day that hangs on the wall. They reach out and, with tears in their eyes, touch their husband’s face.
Using Opinion to Foreshadow
Hunches, opinions, gut-feelings in fiction are rarely wrong. So, why not start your story with, “I looked from person to person. Any of them could have done it. Except, I know it was Harry.”? At the same time, opinions can be used to mislead readers really well. It is good to throw in red herrings while building up to a killer twist.
This is not for every novel or story. It is exactly what it says on the tin. Have your characters read their horoscopes or visit some kind of psychic. Or, maybe, they could reach into their pocket for their lucky coin and find it has fallen through a hole. This is a great way to show that trouble lies ahead.
Symbolism and Omens
There are many symbols we understand to have connotations of good or bad luck. For example, finding a four-leafed clover might suggest good luck is coming to your character. Or having a black cat walk in front of them might suggest bad luck. The weather is a great tool for symbolism. Dark skies suggest danger. Storms approaching suggest storms in your character’s life.
I think we probably use most of these methods without realising we are doing it. As writers, we understand the need for anticipation and atmosphere. Instinctively, we know where to slip in that smoking gun.
I will leave you with a few examples of foreshadowing in literature:
"It was a fantastic night—one of the great nights of my life, actually, despite what happened later." ~ 'The Goldfinch' by Donna Tartt
"I closed my eyes and started to drift but suddenly, like a grinding of gears in my head, I was plunged into a memory of pain and darkness." ~ 'Anybody Out There?' by Marian Keyes
"His name's Simon. I think you're going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he'll be dead. And he was never the same after that." ~ 'The Shock of the Fall' by Nathan Filer
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She didn't want to get involved, but she did and it ruined both of their lives.
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|It would be great to know how you drop subtle (or, sometimes, obvious) hints for your readers in your own writing. Feel free to share an item you believe does this particularly well. I will send a Drama MB to my favourite.|
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