Monday, May 17, 2010

Foreshadowing is never a bad thing

I love watching movies or television shows that always have twists and turns all the way to the ending. I also love re-watching these movies and television shows and seeing if I can see how the ending came to happen, often you'll be surprised (if it has been done well) at how many little details there are that screams at the viewer about what's going to happen. Sometimes it lies in an off-the-cuff remark that one of the characters make, to a photo that's hanging on the wall.

If you can't tell by the picture at the top, I just finished watching the season 5 finale of Supernatural and it was intriguing watching all the little clues placed throughout the episode (not to mention all the episodes leading up to the finale).  By the way, I absolutely loved it... you can give me an angsty Sam over a brooding vampire any day (sorry Spike and Damon, my mind's made up).

Foreshadowing is the greatest tool that any writer, whether it's for visual media or in books, can use. One, it shows the reader/viewer that some thought has been given to the events that are unfolding, and two, it won't make the ending seem too sudden and drastic that the reader/viewer won't believe what's happening.

For foreshadowing to be effective, the writer cannot make the little breadcrumbs that's dropped throughout the pages too noticeable. If it is a glaring neon sign that screams "Pay attention here, this is important" then the reader might think that the author is treating them like an idiot. If there is no foreshadowing and suddenly you've got a twist at the end then the reader might think that the ending is unbelievable and that no way did it even indicate that the "buttler did it".

I absolutely adore stories that have me guessing till the very end. I often find myself flipping back through the pages to find the clues that have been thrown into the story to identify where the twist occurred and what caused it.

So, do you like stories that shows foreshadowing has been done? And, in your stories, do you try and foreshadow the events that are going to take place?


Angela said...

I love foreshadowing! It's one of my favorite aspects to writing and reading. I definitely used it in my novel, although through edits the trick was to make the foreshadowing subtle, which I was eventually able to do.

Lydia Kang said...

I love forshadowing when it's done well. It can be heavy handed sometimes, but overall I like it! I like guessing about what's to come!

Stephanie Thornton said...

I think I actually prefer plot twists to come out of no where. It's no fun when you can see a scene coming!

Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

I love plots where events are skillfully foreshadowed - sometimes I have to reread the book to see how they did it. Without foreshadowing, the ending often comes off as silly.

Culture Served Raw said...

ooh thank god another Aussie writer!! You write horror? I am very curious to read a piece. I wonder if you are a reader/writer for Midnight Echo? Great Aussie horror magazine. Anyway, great to meet, looking forward to new posts


Unknown said...

I've got a copy of Midnight Echo that I've got to get around to read, I've heard it's a good magazine. Great to meet you too.

Anonymous said...

I love foreshadowing but I hate being treated like I have no ability to retain information. If the same point is hammered on every second page, I get very annoyed. The best books are those where you get to the end and you are surprised, you didn't see it coming, but it makes sense because all the hints and clues just come together perfectly.
Thanks for sharing this post.

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