F – Foreshadowing

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…

THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.


PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


Foreshadowing

Hawk sat down in his chair and considered the mermaid swimming around the pier, her tail drifting lazily in the water like an eel sliding through an oil slick, her breasts bobbing on the surface like two gentle snow-kissed hills in the Highlands of his ancestors. He’d come here to escape the world, the madness of life, and especially women, but here it all was again–a different kind of madness, and a different kind of woman, though she made his loins sizzle just as much as any woman with long lovely legs.

“Look.” Dropsy suddenly stopped swimming and pointed toward the shore. “That old woman over there.”

Hawk looked around. A tottering old woman walked the shoreway, stumping along with her cane. Her hair was silver and she had a long hooked nose covered in warts. As she ambled by she made the sign of the Evil Eye at them. Hawk didn’t find it strange, because women often did that sort of thing to him.

Dropsy shivered. “She gives me the creeps. I see her every day walking next to the lake, muttering to herself. I wonder who she is and what she’s doing here?” She didn’t remember the face of the witch who cursed her, but for some reason she thought of her curse every time she saw the old woman.


WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?

Foreshadowing is a great technique—it’s realistic too, as a lot of the events that happen in real life are foreshadowed by something else, whether good or bad. However, foreshadowing shouldn’t be screamed in the reader’s face, but rather casually whispered in their ear so they forget about it until the right moment. Have you ever read a book and something happened that made you gasp and recall a detail earlier in the story? The “THAT’S what it meant!” moment? This is what you should aim for—surprise and delight your readers, don’t make them feel like they’re careening down an inevitable path.

This doesn’t mean foreshadowing should never be obvious. Sometimes it’s fun to make the reader want to cover their eyes because they can see what’s coming even if the character can’t. This must be done with finesse though, and utilized for tension and build-up instead of beating the reader over the head with it. Foreshadowing should seem quietly ominous, not a horrific roller coaster ride toward a brick wall.

37 comments

  1. One of my favorite parts of my book club discussions is finding out what each of us did or did not pick up on before the ultimate reveal. I am usually the only one who didn’t see the foreshadowing, but when I can predict everything that happens, it doesn’t make me feel smarter, it makes me annoyed that it was so obvious. Great advice, yet again. I predict G will be just as inspiring, is that foreshadowing?

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  2. A mermaid with huge bare breasts? I think people have gotten the half fish half human figures wrong. I think the top part would be a fish with human legs.

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  3. I don’t know whether you’d consider it foreshadowing, but I hate it when a character is introduced and immediatly you think: ok, he/she going to die before this is over.
    Happened to me more than once.

    How is that? I don’t know, but I suppose it’s the way the character is introduced, or maybe the words that are used. Or the attitude. Or the author trying very hard to make the reader like this character, so their death will be painful.
    But there is something going on the moment the character appears. So, it may as well be foreshadowing.

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz

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    1. Oh gosh, yes, I hate that. It seems to happen A LOT in TV and movies, like you’re afraid to like any of the characters because you know they’re going to die. I admit, I KIND of did that with a character in my Siren Song series–however, from the moment she shows up you know she’s dying and that’s what going to happen to her. I don’t try to misdirect the readear or sugarcoat it, she’s supposed to make my protagonist consider her own fate. I hope I didn’t lead people on with that.

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  4. The worst “foreshadowing,” if it can even be called that, that I’ve ever seen came from the obscenely overrated Book Thief. Just thinking about that spoilerific narrator with his endless parade of ****NEWSFLASH!!!!**** spoilers makes me ragey.

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    1. Thank you so much! I’m so glad I write well badly! 😉 Really though, I’m very happy for how well-recieved this has been I was afraid I was trying too hard.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Foreshadowing , thanks for these techniques, sometimes many of us use these methods without realising what they are and how to use them efficiently. Thanks for the information.
    As always Hawk and Dropsy rock and so are your metaphors ..”an eel sliding through an oil slick” ” two gentle snow-kissed hills in the Highlands of his ancestors” .. Wow..take a bow !

    Have you read my latest yet? Would love your thoughts and feedback !!

    @Subhmohanty from
    And Life Unfolds…

    A * Alone B * Butterfly C * Curry D * Dance E * Edge F * Forest

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      1. Yes they are. And did I say I am a big fan of your writing style . Way to go and I have so so much to learn from you !

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