We use this literary device to ‘hint’ at what is to come later on in the story. Good for suspense, unease, curiosity, or just a general sense that something isn’t quite right. The author does not necessarily explicitly reveal what will happen, but lay a subtle trace of things to come. When used effectively, many-a-reader may not even notice the significance until the author has made a revelation.

There are two main types of foreshadowing:

  1. Direct
    • Story openly suggests an impending problem, twist, or event.
    • Achieved through dialogue, narration, prophecy, or prologue.
  2. Indirect
    • Hinting at the eventual outcome throughout the story.

To achieve effective foreshadowing, use recurring universal symbols/motifs:

  • Dialogue
    • “I have a bad feeling about this.”
  • Symbols
    • Colours: Black is an absence of all colour
    • Birds: Ravens and Crows to foresee death
  • Weather
    • Storm clouds: messy interludes
    • Wind: getting worked up
    • Rain: cleansing time
    • Clearing skies: things are better
  • Omens
    • Prophecies: take the direct approach
    • Broken mirrors: 7 years’ bad luck
    • Black cats: Bad mojo coming
  • Character reactions
    • Apprehention
    • Curiosity
    • Secrecy
  • Time/Season
    • Midnight: the whole witching hour thingy is gonna happen soon
    • Dawn: Seeing with fresh eyes
    • Spring: rejuvenation
    • Winter: old age, death
  • Setting
    • Graveyard
    • Battlefield
    • Dark Forest Path

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