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|Foreshadowing is a literary device that gives readers hints about what will happen later in the story. Foreshadowing is often used in the early stages of a novel or at the start of a chapter, as it can subtlety create tension and set readers' expectations regarding how the story will unfold. For instance, a mystery novel might use foreshadowing in an early chapter by mentioning something that seems inconsequential — but is actually a clue...
|Foreshadowing can provide readers with hints and a sense of events to come or be used as a red herring, leading the reader in the wrong direction. In this newsletter, we will take a look at the basic types of foreshadowing.
Concrete foreshadowing commonly referred to as "Chekov's Gun", is when the author explicitly states something that they want you to be aware of for the future.' Chekhov's Gun' is a concept that describes how every element of a story should contribute to the whole. It comes from Anton Chekhov's famous book writing advice: 'If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there.
Prominent foreshadowing, also known as the "Prophecies", is linked to a fortune or prophecy that a character will receive, which explicitly tells the reader what will happen in the future. Although sometimes this fortune or omen can seem unclear, they end up coming true in the end.
Evocative foreshadowing, or the "Flashback/Flash-forward", is when an author needs the reader to know something that doesn't fit with the current storyline. The author will usually use a flashback or flash-forward to give the reader the information. Most of the time, the information obtained in the flash will have clues or hints to something the author wants you to remember or pick up on later, which makes this a great form of foreshadowing.
Abstract or "Symbolic" foreshadowing is much harder to pick up. It is abstract and requires thinking outside the box. It is an even more oblique hint than other types of foreshadowing. In a novel, for instance, the author could describe a sudden change of weather. This change often foreshadows a change in a character's luck, mood, or behavior.
Fallacy, or "The Red Herring", is the most fun of all the types. A red herring is a wild goose chase or smokescreen that diverts readers' attention. Its only purpose is to throw the reader off, causing more suspicion, intrigue, and surprise. It is commonly found in works of detective fiction but can lend itself anywhere the author needs to avert suspicion. A great example of this is from the novel Great Expectations when the author keeps foreshadowing that Pip's benefactor is Miss Havisham or Pumblechook, or maybe it's Joe? The author keeps it a secret and diverts our attention so that when we find out who it is, we are shocked and surprised.
Here are a few common examples of how to incorporate foreshadowing:
Dialogue, such as “I have a bad feeling about this”
Symbols, such as blood, certain colors, types of birds, weapons
Weather motifs, such as storm clouds, wind, rain, clearing skies
Omens, such as prophecies or broken mirror
Character reactions, such as apprehension, curiosity, secrecy
Time and/or season, such as midnight, dawn, spring, winter
Settings, such as graveyard, battlefield, isolated path, river
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