Every writer’s goal is to grab and hold their readers’ attention from the very first word to the last. Once your audience has eagerly started turning pages, how do you ensure they stick around until the end? One of the best ways to keep your readers engaged is to use foreshadowing. This literary device allows you to build tension by leaving a subtle trail of clues that will maintain your readers’ interest. The experts have some great tips on how to write foreshadowing that hooks your readers.
How To Write Effective Foreshadowing
Use an outline to plan your narrative so you know the full story arc: You can’t leave hints and warnings if you don’t know what happens next! Lead up to and build from the twists that need to happen for the story and characters to develop. Carefully scattered clues or understated phrases can intrigue your audience and make them suspect something’s up.
Plant Seeds Early
The best foreshadowing starts early in the story. Good plot development is all about buildup, so be sure to point your reader in the right direction early on — but that doesn’t mean give everything away on page one. Instead, give your readers a nudge and let them put the pieces together. Create some questions in the reader’s mind that will linger and become more important as the story develops.
Use In Moderation
A barrage of foreshadowing can ruin your story. Having too many suspicious things to track will wear out your reader. Scatter your foreshadowing seeds carefully and sparingly. Think of it like adding salt to your food: You want just enough to enhance the flavor without it becoming too overpowering. A little goes a long way! And be careful that your foreshadowing efforts don’t result in spoilers — don’t give anything away.
Ways To Incorporate Foreshadowing
Dialogue: Foreshadowing can occur in an offhand comment, joke, or short exchange between characters. Even something implied or left unsaid can raise a flag for readers. Written correctly, dialogue can build character, establish relationships, advance the plot, AND give a little hint as to what comes next.