Most foreshadowing happens on accident. For the times we want foreshadowing, here are a few ways to do so.
What is Foreshadowing
A plot, character or book taunt.
Types of Foreshadowing
1) LIFE: Someone/something is still alive. Someone/something will be born/revived.
2) DEATH: Someone/something will die.
3) POWER: Someone/something has or will gain a new/special power.
4) RISE: Someone/something will rise.
5) FALL: Someone/something will fall.
6) THREAT: Someone/something will or does pose a major threat to another.
Where Foreshadowing Shouldn’t Be
1) Where it will be easily forgotten.
Ex. Main character randomly says, “I think Daryl is gonna die later,” and it’s never reacted to nor is it brought up again.
2) Where it doesn’t make sense to be.
Ex. “Promise me it’ll be okay! Promise me!” The Main Character grabbed the Love Interest’s hand, pulling their attention away from the crashing ocean waves below.
“I can’t promise anything,” the Love Interest sighed.
“Please! Just because I kill myself in the end doesn’t mean you should! It’ll be okay, please just promise me that!” Main Character’s eyes were blurred with tears.
“I-I’ll try to keep my promise...”
*The “Just because I kill myself in the end,” stands out too much, especially when the love interest says “I’ll try to keep my promise,” which is the real (and accidental) foreshadowing.
Where Foreshadowing Should Be
1) Anywhere it can be skipped over, but remembered when the time comes.
Ex. The trees in his dream ran red with blood. The deep color seeped between the cracked bark... and in the creases in his trembling palms. He opened his mouth to speak, but found himself unable to as he woke from the nightmare.
*This “dream” later becomes a reality in the story. The reader won’t dwell on it too long, considering it is just dream. When that nightmare comes to life though, they’ll remember it— as will the character who woke from thag nightmare.
2) Where a character realizes that all those pages ago, there was foreshadowing for the current scene.
3) Accidental foreshadowing takes many forms in many places. It’s also how it’s done best. Don’t force it.
Ways to get Foreshadowing Across
1) DIALOUGE: Have a character tell another, but it’s brushed off or not believed.
Ex. “I’m afraid I’ll hurt him...” a Secondary Character whispered.
“You won’t,” the Main promised with a kind smile, “You love him, don’t you?”
“Y-Yes... but what if I—“ Main cut them off before their worries could spill.
“If you love him, then you won’t hurt him. And if you do? It’ll heal if he loves you back.”
1.5) DIALOGUE: Have a characters speech pattern or voice suddenly change. Rather than being straight forward, they’re vague. Instead of loud, they’re suddenly quiet.
2) DESCRIPTION: Using darker or lighter descriptions changes the tone of which it’s being read in.
Ex. A Forest
a) “The lush green undergrowth spread over our path, but in comfortable silence, we continued along the thin trail. We had been here countless times before, I could never forget where to step.”
b) “The shadows led the undergrowth over the vague path. In eerie silence, we held our tongued. Make a sound, and we may be found by the wrong beast in the woods.”
3) ACTIONS/REACTIONS: Sudden fear, anxiety or unsettlement may single some(one/thing) is watching or drawing nearer. Sudden calm in a normally anxious character can mean a myriad of things.
Ex. She was suddenly calm, taking in a slow breath. Why wasn’t she afraid? A twisted grin crossed her dark lips, black eyes slowly locking onto me. I stood motionless at her side, panic thrumming through my pulse. She had never looked me in the eye before.
“Calm yourself,” she cooed, her voice not quiet, not scared like normal.
“What is happening to you?” I stumbled back, hand falling over my heart as I felt the fear slamming against my chest.
“Nothing dear... I’ve just found my courage...” I thought that was the end of it.
No... what is she doing? Why is she coming closer?
“What I’ve started.”
She placed her own hand over my own, feeling my racing heartbeat. She smiled.
“How couldn’t you have seen my warnings?”
4) CLIFFHANGERS: Depending on the type, chapter or book cliffhangers commonly signal it’s not quite the end. There’s more waiting to be shown.
5) QUESTIONS: Good ol’ questions or character reflections. Short, sweet and deep.
Ex. Blood was everywhere, filling the nightmare of white walls with crimson smears. Hand prints. Splatters. Smashed skulls. Mangled bodies. And the nightmaric voice inside my head, said it was all me.
I woke, gasping for air. I set my hand on my chest, feeling my heart settle. Just a nightmare, not reality.
Would I have laid back down... if I knew that dreams come true?