Monday, August 1, 2011

First Comes Email Exchange, Then Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage...: Part 2

This post is a continuation of the post from two weeks ago (I was in cottage country last week!) on foreshadowing, so if you haven't read that yet, I would highly recommend that you do. Read it here. To recap a few points I mentioned in last week's post:

-Foreshadowing is suggesting in advance that something will happen.
-Foreshadowing engages a reader, and lets them know that something will be happening.
-You can foreshadow by telling the reader, writing a pre-scene, and giving character's irrational emotions.

Now, onto the new stuff! I'll continue with writing the different ways that one can foreshadow.

Writing a "loaded gun".
You've probably heard of the expression that if you show a gun hanging on the wall in act one it has to be fired by act three. In this type of foreshadowing, that is a very key concept to remember. When writing the "loaded gun" type of foreshadowing you show the reader something/someone that will have to be used later in the novel, and thus get them wondering about it. For example:

Judy turned sideways to slither between two cars of despicable taste. One was still running, and the other had a set of keys sitting on the hood.


Sarah reached into her purse, and realized that her pepper spray was missing.

In the second example, it twisted the "loaded gun" method, but still the same concept. This concept is where you show the reader something/someone (or the lack or something/someone) that will come into play later in the novel.

Giving a character an opinion.
This method of foreshadowing is one of the more overt ones. In this way, a character has an opinion of what is to come, and 'promises' the reader something. In real life, people have opinions about what is to come all the time that are wrong. However, a reader has the tendency to believe what character's say especially if they're one of the main characters. For example:

I already knew that the day would be long and boring before we even got to the shoe store.

This statement 'promises' the reader a day that is going to be long, and boring. The reader will want to continue to see how it turns out. I say 'promises' in quotations, because foreshadowing can be effectively used to foreshadow the opposite of what it suggests. For example, the day could be exciting, and fun. More on that later.

Have a prophecy.
Again, this is another more obvious one. It's pretty straight forward, so I won't spend to long on it. By having some prophecy surrounding a character, is another way to get the reader interested. If you have your main character prophesied to kill off the antagonist then it will grab the reader's interest making them want to find out how, and what happens when the main character eventually has to battle the antagonist (ex. Harry Potter prophesied to kill Voldemort).

Having Symbolism
Symbolism can be a tricky business, as it is one of the softer ways to foreshadow. When you foreshadow through symbolism you show the reader something, and depend on the connotation that surround the object of the symbolism. Again, in real life we don't normally take stormy weather, or walking under a ladder that seriously, but in fiction everything has a meaning. For example,

The necklace her mother had given her when she married was lying in pieces in the drawer.

This particular statement would seemingly elude to the marriage failing, because the necklace broke. As a reader, that's what I would expect, and that's why I would keep reading. When using symbolism it's important not to be too abstract, and use something that has a connotation that most people aren't familiar with. Here's two examples of symbolism people would recognize, and symbolism people wouldn't recognize.

Roses symbolizing love.

Hydrangeas symbolizing boastfulness.

Most people associate roses with love, but hydrangeas? I wouldn't associate them with boastfulness, although that is what they represent according to Google. An author may think they're being clever by using something abstract, but honestly, that's just annoys, and confuses to the reader. Overall, using symbolism is a very broad topic, and can be employed in many different ways.

I have two main cautions when foreshadowing. Don't be corny, and follow through with your 'promises'. The first caution is fairly obvious, and hard to pin point, but most people know it when they see it. Following through is much easier to discuss. Basically if you say the gun is going to be fired, it better be fired. If you never mention that loaded gun again, then the readers will feel cheated. I'm not saying that you have to do exactly what you promise, quite the contrary really, but you have to do something with it. I can't think of a better way to explain this then to quote the article I used to write this:

"Foreshadow that the gun will be fired. Imply that Character A will use it to kill Character B. But actually, in the end, Character A uses it to kill himself."

In conclusion, this list I've shared which I learned from this article is just a few ways to foreshadow. There are endless possibilities waiting to be explored. The only thing that really matters is that you, the author, is suggesting events of the plot to the reader in advance.

Anyways, have a great rest of the summer filled with many many words!

1 comment:

  1. I love the example you gave with Characters A and B. Nice post!


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