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Foreshadowing

 

Disciplines > StorytellingStory Devices > Foreshadowing

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Foreshadowing occurs where the author hints at events to come by exposing something that appears significant in some way.

Multiple foreshadowing may be used to keep the reader guessing, particularly in how the apparently unconnected hints will all come together to make sense at some point.

Example

A person casually opens a drawer. A gun is there. They get something else out, ignoring the gun (for now).

In an argument, a person shouts 'If you do that, I won't be responsible for what happens!!'

A woman makes 'bedroom eyes' at a man.

Discussion

Foreshadowing creates tension as it gets the reader guessing as to what might happen. Multiple foreshadowing multiplies this effect.

Foreshadowing works by triggering common associations or causal assumptions, such as that owning a gun leads to it being used to kill people, and that the owner is possibly a criminal or has something to hide.

A Red Herring may be used to deceive the reader into assuming that a foreshadow has been given when it has not. This is useful for throwing the reader off the scent in 'whodunnit' stories.

Good foreshadowing is a delicate art that gets the audience guessing, yet neither leads them astray nor gives the game away.

See also

Red Herring, Flashforward, Dream sequence, Flashing Arrow

 

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