How to Foreshadow Your Big Events and Secrets

How to Foreshadow Your Big Events and Secrets, Renea Guenther, Editing Your Novel, Revision, Foreshadowing

I love stories where all the pieces fall into place and end in ways I would never have expected.

But once I knew the answer, I could see the clues the author placed clear as day.

It may look easy when you’re reading, but the truth is foreshadowing takes a lot of time and planning to get things just right.

There are some writers naturally lucky enough to pull this off with little effort, but most of us have to plan it ahead of time or insert it during revisions.

Let’s take a look at the different ways we can approach foreshadowing.

Planning Our Clues

Sometimes we know what scenes our clues go in and sometimes we have to build the scene around the clue.

Most clues are major turning points or essential information of some kind that moves the plot forward where each previous clue leads up to the next.

To plan for our end to make the greatest impact, we need to know each clue brings all the previous pieces together for the character to work out the answer to the story question or solution to its conflict.

Each clue should be discovered when it will make the most impact to increase tension and raise the stakes.

But in some cases, we don’t want to make the clue too obvious, or the reader might figure things out long before the end.

These clues need to be hidden amongst seemingly insignificant details.

Only when the reader reaches the end should they realize the answer was there in front of them the whole time.

Accidental Foreshadowing

We can also find things we wrote in the first draft can be tweaked to be so much more.

We don’t always know exactly how the story will flow or what details might add to the context of our big secret until after we start working on revisions.

Things have a habit of sneaking in as you write you might not have originally considered.

Sometimes this might be a bit of backstory, internalization, or a piece of setting.

Not everything will survive the revision process, but if you look closely, you might find some of these “accidents” work better than the clues you originally planned.

Inserting Clues During Revisions

Not all foreshadowing makes it into the first draft.

Often once we know how the story unfolds, we might discover something is missing or new places to add secrets or little hints.

When working through during revisions, decide what the goal of each clue is: to surprise, increase tension, pique curiosity, or to create a bit of misdirection for the reader.

We can also use clues to slow down or speed up the pacing by creating a bit of excitement where a scene drags or reflection where the action is too fast.

Use the character’s surroundings and dialogue to trigger memories or realizations to allow things to be understood that wasn’t when the clue first appeared.

This means finding places where a clue might be misunderstood or mean multiple things.

We don’t want the reader to get too far ahead of the character.

So, try to keep the balance between when each of them figures things out.

We want everything to be in just the right spot for the readers to follow but not obvious enough they realize it’s all connected until just the right moment.

How do you use foreshadowing in your stories?

FOR FURTHER READING

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Renea strives to help writers develop the focus and skills they need to finish their first novel, offering writers practical writing advice they can apply one step at a time.

She is the author of Conquering Writing Pressures: Living a Balanced Writing Life in a Busy World where she helps writers find the courage to accept life will never be perfect. And if we want our dreams to succeed, we must fight to make them a reality.

She currently lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with her husband Joe, her three children, and her five lovable furballs.

From a young age, Renea was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which she read in the ninth grade.

She is an avid reader, with her main interests residing in history, mythology, and fantasy, along with some romance and science fiction in her earlier years.

When Renea’s not writing, she enjoys genealogy, role-playing games, and dreams of traveling the world. In a past life, she plucked chickens and milked cows.

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2 thoughts on “How to Foreshadow Your Big Events and Secrets

  1. Pingback: How to Flesh Out Our Stories Without Sacrificing Quality – Renea Guenther

  2. Pingback: Trimming Repetition to Create a Stronger Story – Renea Guenther

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