So! I began reading a series of books over the weekend that are written somewhat similar to my style of writing, which of course means that I also, like any other writer, broke each one down into it’s most minute parts for examination and studied the living daylights out of it.
The main similarity I noticed was the way we foreshadow events.
Now…let me say this: I. Don’t. Like. Being. Surprised.
Never have…Never will.
It’s not that I don’t like being given gifts – of course I do – I’m female.
That’s not the kind of surprise I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the sneak-up-catch-you-off-guard-make-you-wanna-hit-somebody kind of surprise.
I am a control freak with eyes not only in the back of my head, but on the sides too. I have to know what is going on at all times, just ask my kids.
I don’t like being duped.
It’s the same with reading.
I’m not sure there is anything I hate worse than to be smacked upside the head with a what-the-crap? or a this-is-freaking-ridiculous! when the event causing such elegant verbiage to spew from my lips hasn’t been eluded to in the faintest.
This IS NOT a gift to your reader.
They will feel tricked and cheated and blog about you being a vapid author with the writing skill of a duck – and we want to prevent that.
That’s what foreshadowing is for.
*Disclaimer: Not everything has to be foreshadowed, just be careful not to make ‘reveals’ seem impossible or too coincidental. Use foreshadowing to prepare for instances that might not make sense to the reader otherwise.
Sometimes foreshadowing is subtle, hidden amongst other details so well you don’t see it until all the clues click in place.
And other times it’s blatant, hooking the reader and tugging at their curiosity enough to keep them reading.
I enjoy both.
Subtle foreshadowing gives me those a-ha moments that I love…and blatant foreshadowing intrigues me by giving a peek at what’s to come and keeps me turning the pages.
Foreshadowing is a tool, which means work is required.
Use it to drive your story, hook your reader, and provide links, that when put together, strengthen the climax.
I am the kind of reader/writer that loves foreshadowing, and, when done right, I’m not sure there can be TOO much of it. I’ve never read a book where I felt like that was the case.
I guess, like anything, it can be overdone. But like I said….if it’s done neatly and purposefully, is there a limit to how many breadcrumbs the author can leave the reader?
Have you ever read a book where it was just too much?