Writing Tips #6 (The Power Of Foreshadowing)

Here comes the last and the most vital part to embellish your stories! With the power of foreshadowing, a writer can achieve that one thing they have took all the efforts for— Reader’s Interest. Before we begin, these are the previous tips to keep in mind before you plan to start your story.
#1 – Word Count and Story Length

#2 – Choosing the genre/ Conceptualizing the story
#3 – Sequencing the Plot
#4 – Character Development
#5 – First Person/ Second Person/ Third Person Narrative
#6 – The Power of Foreshadowing


Foreshadowing can be used in many different ways to generate interest & make the reader second guess the proceedings of the story. Here we would elaborate the different types of textbook foreshadowing and learn how to use them for our benefit.

The Wall (Concrete Foreshadowing)

As the name suggests, while using this type of foreshadowing you(as a writer) would explicitly warn the reader about the future. Personally, I like to call it the silence before the storm. It is mostly done when you want readers to be aware of something and thus give subtle hints about it. These hints, nevertheless, if left unused in the future, leads to forming plot holes. Thus disappointing the readers and losing trust from your narration skills.

A simple example:
If your characters are going to enter a fight which hasn’t yet started and you mention a weapon lying somewhere or hung on a wall, then it’s a clue for your readers to apprehend the fact that it’ll be used in the fight.

Prophecies (Fortune Foreshadowing)

This foreshadowing isn’t always in the form of a prophecy, but a way to predict the future in an unclear and unintelligible way. The predictions are commonly done to confuse the reader but usually turn true by the end of a story. The prophecies are mostly linked with the fate of the characters or system taken under consideration. These predictions explicitly giveaway the future to the reader but it’s never completely apprehended by them. Use it wisely and the readers would stick to your story by the end to see what happens.

A simple example:
If a prophecy is mentioned where the protagonist defeats an undefeatable antagonist, readers would be intrigued to see how it happens.

Flashback/ Flashforward (Evocative Foreshadowing)

At times when there are scenes which do not fit in the current happenings of the storyline, you would traditionally use a flashback/flash-forward to nudge readers with a clue that would have a prominent significance in the present timeline. Flashbacks and Flashforwards should be brief and relevant. Sometimes, they reveal the traits of a character.

A simple example:
In Robert Langdon’s series, author Dan Brown uses Flashback to reveal Robert Langdon’s fear of closed spaces (claustrophobia). Without the flashback, Robert’s claustrophobia would had been less significant and many important scenes would prove puzzling to the British author’s readers.

The Red Herring (False Foreshadowing)

Fallacy is the main factor of this foreshadowing. This type of foreshadowing is mostly used in detective mysteries. When you use this foreshadowing, you would raise suspicion in the mind of a reader towards something or someone that is far away from the actual culprit. It is one of the best ways to surprise a reader, since it makes them believe in things aren’t true but seem to be. When the curtains of fallacy are revealed, every false scene used by you should fall in place with the truth. Meaning that readers should believe that they never saw the hidden side of the whole situation and not that they were fooled by you.

A simple example:
A detective may suspect one of the characters to the culprit due to some facts that come up during the investigation. At times, in the end it maybe discovered that someone else other than that character is the culprit. Now, if you fail to make reason why the detective believed the wrong character was the culprit your readers would lose faith in the intelligence of the detective.


That brings us to the end of the Writing Tips series. If you’ve been keeping up with all of the parts, I’d really appreciate if you had your own tips for me or if these tips proved helpful to you. After all, the world is round and we all learn something or the other from each other. Thank you.


©The Honest Fabler
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3 thoughts on “Writing Tips #6 (The Power Of Foreshadowing)

  1. Anton Chekhov said much the same thing (about foreshadowing). “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” This simple piece of advice became known as “Chekhov’s gun.”

    Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with a sneakily placed red herring. We’ve all seen it in movies where you’re sure something dastardly is about to happen to the main character and you’re on the edge of your seat, you’re heart is in your mouth and you just know the MC is about to be caught/be severely hurt/die, and then the moment leaps aside and our hero is safe. You, however, are left feeling exhausted (but relieved) 😀

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