May 23, 2011 Leave a comment
I think next to conflict, the way to keep your readers interested in your story is with foreshadowing. Those little hints we writers give to tease and entice our audience. What did Mrs. Smith mean when she said ‘Maybe?’ Is something bad going to happen to little Billy? Oh No!
Done right, this technique can be a very powerful tool, but more and more I’m seeing writers blow their hard work by revealing too much when they foreshadow.
“Master, is something wrong?”
“Yes. We are going to be attacked by an evil presence, but there’s nothing we can do about it yet, so just be on your guard.”
Yeah, well, you get the idea.
Writers are told not to include great piles of backstory or info dumps when they begin a project, and I think, so I think in their excitement to get the story going, they inadvertently tell us too much. It happens, and I completely understand. The reason I’m writing about it, is because I’m hoping that if they see it here, then maybe they will see it in their own work, and correct it.
There are so many other ways to foreshadow. Strange weather (that seems to be my favourite), odd occurrences, tingling senses. It doesn’t have to be spoken. As a matter of fact, I think it works better if it isn’t told to us in dialogue.
Like other aspects of writing, foreshadowing is a skill that has to be learned, but I think it’s one of the easiest. When you come to that part in your story where you want to foreshadow, stop and think. Think about what is going to happen. Think about the seed you want to plant in your readers head. Maybe even chart out where you want drop these hints, say drop one half way through chapter two, and another one right near the end of three. Build up to it, draw the reader in.
After all, you’re a writer and that’s your job.