Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tips on Foreshadowing--Part 3

Okay, here's part 3 of my series. See parts 1 and 2 here.

We're going to talk about two things here: foreshadowing your world and foreshadowing your conflict. The reason being that I don't want to do a part 4. Yes I'm being lazy but it's already been a hectic week. Deal with it.

Foreshadowing your world.
1) Any part of your world or particular feature you bother to mention needs to be explored at some time. This is why there are so many fantasy movies lately that are being made into trilogies or other multiples: everything needs to be explored and the audience gets pissy when too much gets cut.

If you mention the woodland elves, but never explore the culture, what was the point of mentioning them? Explore everything you mention, and mention everything you're going to explore. Build up the hype so that by the time the reader gets there, they're eager to see it up close and personal.

Robert Jordan was a master at this. He visited every place on his map and explored every culture he mentioned, but often not until he'd mentioned it so many times that the reader was extremely familiar with the terms.

2) When you're foreshadowing something to do with the world, such as a surprise element a big reveal that has to do with your world, make sure you reveal it at a time when it will cause the most trouble.
Gonna have to go with Harry Potter for an example. Did Rowling reveal that Harry was, indeed, the chosen one and that either he or Voldemort would have to kill the other eventually at the end of book 1? Or on the first day of school when everyone's excited and happy to be back together? Of course not! She revealed it after a terrible tragedy, when Harry was hurt and angry and Dumbledore was almost despairing. Why did she do that? Because that's where it would have the most impact. If she'd revealed it in a healthy, happy, hopeful moment, Harry probably could have dealt with it better. As it was, everyone in America wanted to kill themselves for Harry's sake. (Luckily, they didn't because then they wouldn't have gotten to read the next book.)

Okay, let's move on to conflict. When I say 'foreshadowing conflict,' what I mean is foreshadowing the ending. I mean, that's what it all comes down to, right?

Foreshadowing your Conflict

1) Stay away from Deus ex Machina. That's a latin term that mean something/someone that shows up in the nick of time to solve a difficulty. It's not realistic and it's nearly impossible to foreshadow. Make sure the hero/heroin has to actually DO something to save themselves.
2) There should be an if...then statement. The characters have to do something first in order to be saved. This is the type of thing that is easily foreshadowed. Harry must kill Voldemort to beat him. Katniss must win the Hunger Games to keep her family from starving. Frodo must throw the ring into the fires of Mt. Doom in order to stop Sauron.

And guess what, folks? Every reader will stick around to see if it happens or not.

3) Foreshadow what must be done to attain the goal, and make sure that thing is nigh impossible for the character to do. If the character is being asked to do something that's easy, the reader isn't going to care. The stakes have to be high. It has to be hard. You have to make people wonder if the character is capable of achieving it.

So, to sum up:

Foreshadowing your world: make sure you explore everything you mention, and mention (foreshadow) everything you explore. Also make sure that any big reveals dealing with your world come at the most inopportune time for the characters.

Foreshadowing your conflict: Make sure the stakes are high, that your characters have to work for their salvation, and that what's being asked of them is almost impossible.

Then, go through and drop a few hints about what may or may not happen in the end. See if you can make your readers salivate! :D Happy Wednesday!

Don't forget to check out my GIVEAWAY if you haven't yet. :D

Random Movie Quotes (RMQ)

Don't know what this is? See tab at top of page.
Last week's RMQ was: "You can feel it. That cold ain't the weather. That's death approaching. Who do you think they're gonna take first? The girl, who thinks a gun will help her? The kid, sheriff's kid? Or the old gal?"

This was said by Ben Foster who played 'the Stranger' in the film 30 Days of Night

Alex Cavanaugh got one point for guessing the film. Rachel K. Johnson got the other two points for actor and character.

Great job, guys! Thanks so much for participating! :D

Today's RMQ is:

Guy1: "And for a time, I did consider her offer."
Guy2: "How long a time."
Guy 1: "0.68 Seconds, Sir."

One point for each name of each character and actor and one point for film, so 5 possible points on this one. Good luck!


  1. Why not...
    Guy 1: Lt. Cmdr Data / Brent Spiner
    Guy 2: Cpt. Picard / Patrick Stewart
    Star Trek: First Contact

  2. Drat I'm too late on the quote. That's one of my favorite lines from the film. Liesel these are great tips. My favorite is the importance of foreshadowing. We do trend to read into things a lot.

    1. It's one of my favorite lines too, Maurice. Though his next line about it being almost an eternity for an android kind of makes the line, I thought it would be too obvious if I included it. :D Thanks for visiting! :D

  3. Bummer! I missed it. Star Trek First Contact. And I think the word was tempted rather than consider.
    I do have a few things that foreshadow events that never happen in my current manuscript. Something is either going to happen or they are coming out.

    1. You may be right about the world. Guess I need to watch the film again. (Yea!) Good luck with your manuscript! Thanks Alex! :D