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You know how I said, last chapter, that I would have babies with foreshadowing?

Yeah, I was serious.

Because, when foreshadowing is done well in a book I'm reading, I literally feel my uterus expand.

Too much information? Probably. Let's take it a step back.

What even is foreshadowing?

Foreshadowing is when you warn your readers about something that is about to happen. This does not necessarily have to be an explicit warning, and I will discuss how there are numerous methods to foreshadowing. However, the most fundamental point about foreshadowing is that it hints at something that is about to happen within the story, well before it actually occurs.

I'm sure you've reread some of your favourite novels, and you've been like, "Whoa... the author teased us by hinting that this is going to happen! And then it did!"

Those moments are because of some beautiful foreshadowing.

Why is foreshadowing good, anyways? Like... what makes it so good, that I would literally have babies with it despite it being a literary device rather than a person? What about it makes readers all over the world drool? What about it makes Mary's Little Lamb, the Creepy Stalker, stop following children around to instead admire it?

There are two main reasons:

Firstly, it makes the twist make sense.

Whenever you have a big twist in a story, such as the reveal of a murderer or the truth about the extinction of dodo-birds, you don't want it to feel too random. Like, oh this whole story was about people travelling the world and slaying dragons and... wait, what? The dragons aren't actually dragons, but they're secretly paper plates pretending to be dragons? What?

If it is such a big, random twist, then it needs to be foreshadowed for it to be effective. That's how you make the reader squeal and be like, "Oh! That makes sense!"

Secondly, it adds tension and foreboding.

For example, if we pick up a story, and the first sentence is:

The prophecy states that the protagonist will, in fact, die before she turns seventeen.

Then, dear lord, we are instantly captivated. We are terrified. Because the protagonist is sixteen, and is one week away from turning seventeen, and suddenly we just are desperately to know how she dies.

Basically, foreshadowing is your friend. Let's talk about it!


You will notice above that I have listed two distinct reasons why foreshadowing can be effective in your story: a) the twist, and b) the foreboding.

This is sort of tied into the two types of foreshadowing!

First of all, there's the direct foreshadowing. This foreshadowing is as subtle as a hand grenade. The author literally tells you they are foreshadowing. They are telling you that... yo. Something is up. Be wary.

This one builds tension. It adds foreboding and a bit of excitement, because now we know something is going to happen, but it's vague enough that we want to read more. These are the types of foreshadowing that fit under this category! I've tried to make the examples fun, but dear goodness, when you don't have an actual story to foreshadow... it's tricky.

Let's pretend that there is a story about Mary Had A Little Lamb. The lamb is secretly a murderer, stalking Mary so that it can lure her into a sense of safety before it slowly rips apart her limbs with its... hooves?

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