Thursday, October 20

A Cynic's Guide to Foreshadowing

10 Steps to Anticipated Surprises

1. Insert a character with seemingly no purpose at the beginning of the story. Then, have him show up at the climax, or when there is a big reveal. The true reveal is that his purpose in the story is foreshadowing.

2. Have your protagonist read about or overhear certain information. Is there a rumoured special powered one? Surprise, surprise when it turns out to be your protagonist.

3. Use the weather and setting to reflect the upcoming mood of your scene. Bonus cliché marks if it rains, and then your character receives really bad news.

4. Have a wizened mentor suggest at something ominous, but not impart any substantial information until the climax. Regardless, your protagonist is shocked and amazed at the reveal! Even though the old geezer could have just told him what was happening chapters back. Cheers.

5. There should be a useless looking object that your character gets stuck with. It is so seemingly irrelevant that it can only be exceptionally relevant. Later, it saves your protagonist's life.

6. Did someone call for cruel irony? If a character was a childhood bully and pushed other children, causing them to skin their knees, then he may meet his adult demise in some form of skinning.

7. Misinterpretations are your friends. A young man's uncle and guardian comments on his follies in love, "Kissing isn't lustful! Let him imagine matrimony." In fact, this is an assassin's code: K.I.L.L. H.I.M. Poor love struck schmuck.

8. Your protagonist is so intuitive that he's always right. No one believes his theory that an assassin has been hired to kill a teenage boy, but is instead intent on killing the boy's uncle, who was the assassin's childhood bully. Sure, what this really kills is the intrigue, but at least your protagonist has a future career as a clairvoyant.

9. Symbolism is there for you. A cracked mirror shows divide in loyalties. The Ace of Spaces foresees death. Someone drew stars in crayon on the wall, and now there is a meteor that is crashing through that very wall. Symbolic...but deadly.

10. If you can take a metaphor and turn it into a moral by the end of the story, you're all set.

I see figurative fiction in your future.


A Cynic


Sasperella said...

Loved this post - and what a great blog generally! Can't wait to hear about your NaNoWriMo progress!

Fellow Yorkshire NaNoer, Sasperella

Debbie said...

Great post. These are useful ideas I'll definitely be trying out with NaNo.

cleonlim said...