One great creative trick in writing is the use of foreshadowing. If you were going to a barbeque, think of foreshadowing as the savory, charcoal smell that hits you as you walk towards the grill. It’s faint at first. Then it becomes stronger, the closer you get to the grill. Foreshadowing is a tiny hint of what is to come.
Yet, it doesn’t stop there. Foreshadowing in a story should change shape for the reader like the delicious fragrance of a grill that morphs into the smoke it comes from. We are intrigued. We have to know what this smoke and scent will reveal. Like in your story, the foreshadowing should lure your audience in without completely giving them too much information.
Save that for when we have reached the grill. So, our eyes can be greeted with the glorious sight of semi chard meat and vegetables, making our mouths water for a taste. This is the part of the story that reveals the special catalyst to ignite certain actions in the story.
Like slipping on a banana peel. We know a fall is coming.
For example, if your hero/heroine needs to battle a supervillain, they will need a special skill to defeat them. You cannot have your readers learn during the fight that the hero, which they have been reading about for 100 odd pages, all of a sudden has a magic power to fly or burn things with his/her mind.
Writers must set the stage and develop a fictitious world that their readers slowly trust is believable. You will lose your audience by adding random things that have not been hinted at, earlier. Giving little bits of characterization and backstory can lead your readers into believing what is happening to the characters could be possible.
In other words, instead of having the main character pull out some random power to defeat the bad guy, the story should have something happen previously to revealing their full power. Maybe, the character waking up on top of the bookshelf. He/She thinking how they had got there. Maybe he/she got really angry and a trash can near them went into flames. Whatever! Things need to happen in the story previously to the big reveal.
The same goes for non-fantasy genres. Here, you can use foreshadowing to hint at important conflicts to come. Say a conflict in the romance story has the hero and heroine stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. The story can have hints of the hero noting that he keeps forgetting to buy a spare tire. Or the narrator reveals the tires are worn, or the heroine says an offhanded comment about being stuck some place with the hero would be a nightmare. Another way is to describe the texture of the road and its contact with the iffy tire. Set up that something may happen soon to that wheel.
Or maybe you have a detective team that can’t stand one another. The writer should create a scene or moment where the two show a slight change of attitude towards each other. That way at the end of the story the friendship they have formed after solving the case is believable. Also, if one should happen to died or be injured during the pursuit of the criminal, any remorse the character has for their partners will resound with your audience. We will trust they actually cared about each other.
Here are some great places with examples of how to create foreshadowing in your work:
Do not let down your audience. Set up the conflicts, special powers, and/or relationships with the creative style of foreshadowing.
Share your ideas or questions about foreshadowing in the comments section below.