Foreshadowing / Omens

Phantomheart

Cliff Hanger Player
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
262
Points
63
I've been playing around with this concept in my latest novel, though I have made it quite obvious and most of my readers pick it up and comment on it. So i wanted to ask about how you guys like to put in foreshadowing in your stories. I usually tie it specifically to the events of the story and have them be sort of like riddles based off some information given in the previous chapter or previous line of text. The most common uses of foreshadowing I've seen on the site are when people mention what will be happening in their description page, so I'd like to hear everyone elses' thoughts!
 

NiQuinn

ฅ/ᐠ ̳ .ᆺ. ̳ ᐟ\ฅ ~~ᴺʸᵃᵃ
Joined
Jan 15, 2019
Messages
381
Points
93
A good foreshadowing is one that you don't even notice. Case in point, the locket in Harry Potter that they saw in Grimmauld Place turned out to be one of the seven Horcruxes shown later into the series. I felt like a winner when I remembered about said locket and reminded my siblings of that very locket when it was mentioned.

On another note, [rologues can be a foreshadowing tool when used correctly. Again, when used correctly. It makes me cringe when I read a Prologue that should have just been labeled as Chapter One instead. As for foreshadowing in book blurbs, personally, I often get turned off by those. It's very blatant and it kind of removes the excitement for me when I find that I'm intentionally waiting for something to happen. I want to read a book to get to a place that I don't know. I don't want a ready finish line set up for me.

As for Omens, that's different. They're an in-your-face kind of doomsday countdown that you hope won't happen - depending on the circumstance. An omen can be a plot device that a reader can look forward to because it makes the journey as the standout. Does that make sense?
 

jinxs2011

Spud Cannon
Joined
Dec 23, 2018
Messages
138
Points
43
It depends. The way I like to do it - or at least the way I like to think I do it - is that the further away the event, person or whatever is being foreshadowed, the more vague I be, and the closer, the more obvious.

And that seems to work so far for my novels, but if you were doing, say, a mystery novel, then you need to have different pieces (so to speak) that fit together at the end to form the big reveal, such that reading it a second time, the person can go, 'oh yeah! that makes sense now. That's why such and such happened.' But one thing you have to watch out for is the way you reveal information. Say you have your character mention an object in the room offhandedly. If your character doesn't have a habit of doing things like that, and you don't have dummy objects that they mention that don't have any effect on the plot, your reader is just gonna go, 'why did they mention that? It must be important.'

Your readers are most likely going to assume that everything you've written, you've written for a reason, and they might read into that - unless you give them reason to believe otherwise. False information, irrelevant information etc are all things you should pepper in occasionally. One thing I've found in a lot of novels is that 'the hero is always right'. What I mean is, whenever the protagonist guesses about something, is told about something, figures something out, they're never wrong. The information is immediately treated as fact. It's stupid, it doesn't make sense, and it's terrible for any sort of mystery or foreshadowing. The protagonist will guess what's about to happen and oh, what a shock! They were right yet again. Such a surprise that was!
 

Phantomheart

Cliff Hanger Player
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
262
Points
63
A good foreshadowing is one that you don't even notice. Case in point, the locket in Harry Potter that they saw in Grimmauld Place turned out to be one of the seven Horcruxes shown later into the series. I felt like a winner when I remembered about said locket and reminded my siblings of that very locket when it was mentioned.

On another note, [rologues can be a foreshadowing tool when used correctly. Again, when used correctly. It makes me cringe when I read a Prologue that should have just been labeled as Chapter One instead. As for foreshadowing in book blurbs, personally, I often get turned off by those. It's very blatant and it kind of removes the excitement for me when I find that I'm intentionally waiting for something to happen. I want to read a book to get to a place that I don't know. I don't want a ready finish line set up for me.

As for Omens, that's different. They're an in-your-face kind of doomsday countdown that you hope won't happen - depending on the circumstance. An omen can be a plot device that a reader can look forward to because it makes the journey as the standout. Does that make sense?
Yup!
I more so followed the foreshadow strategy that was used in Romeo and Juliet since most web novels make it a point to tell what the story is in the prologue or description. So I went ahead with that idea and explained the first use of foreshadowing and just continues that same analogy for each chapter, extending it and not explaining it unless it was asked in the comments.
Was this supposed to be a sign? It seemed all too coincidental to be honest, for sweet, dearest, Ibis was named after an owl — Ibis is the latin term for those birds and coincidentally, Corvus is that for a crow. It sounded like a funny joke as I watched the crow nestle sometwigs to fix the nest that it had taken over. I could only ponder with glee at this strange foresight that was offered to me. I gently laiddown the painted stone that I had carried from the garden so that I could observe the bird longer.
It would be somewhat ironic if somehow Corvus received the throne instead of his idiot of a brother. While I had barely met him in my last life, I doubted that he could be any worse than Ibis, who gave away his family heirlooms tome in an attempt to appease Lily. Yet, as stupid as Ibis could be, Corvus fell in love with her too, so maybe it would be best for me to ignore his presence like I did in mypast lifetime. Hell, I’d probablysupport him if he were to start acoup, that is if I was still in thisdamned kingdom by that time.
And
I wished he was here to see me finally do what was best for myself though, he would have found it funny. I ignored my father and looked out towards mother’s tree instead, the oak’s branches being visible from my bedroom window. It was quite peculiar, the sight I saw, the crow had taken a single marigold into its stolen nest.
It looked like my story would be changing after all.
With the analysis or actual implications being:
Ibis = Owl, Corvus = Crow, Marigold = Marigold Flower, and Nest = Crown / Palace. Thus if the crow pushed the owl out of it's nest, then Corvus will be pushing Ibis out of the line of royal succession. Corvus will take the throne from Ibis. If Corvus is the crow and the crow took the marigold into his nest, then Marigold will be taken into the palace. This can be interpreted as Marigold being married into the royal family or as Marigold being put on the throne by Corvus :)
 

NiQuinn

ฅ/ᐠ ̳ .ᆺ. ̳ ᐟ\ฅ ~~ᴺʸᵃᵃ
Joined
Jan 15, 2019
Messages
381
Points
93
Another thing with Omens is, sometimes, readers just don't get it. Doesn't mean it's not effective. I'm not for dumbing down a major part of a story just so people would understand it.
 

IvyVeritas

Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Messages
33
Points
8
For my story, the omen or prophecy was subverted and broken in the prologue, bringing an end to centuries of planning before the result could occur. The gods are still maneuvering for power against each other, trying to salvage what they can for their own reasons (which are gradually being made clear over the course of the first few books). Meanwhile, the main characters are living their own lives, following their own quests. They're unaware of any of the stuff that's going on in the background, though over time, the two storylines occasionally brush up against each other (but never merge).

The entire series is full of regular (non-omen) foreshadowing, some of it more obvious than others. When the main characters are consciously planning for the future, they don't always have all the facts, so the further out they're planning, the less likely those plans are to be accurate. The readers, on the other hand, have seen more points of view, so they will often be better at connecting the different pieces together and predicting what might happen in the future (though just because something can happen doesn't necessarily mean that it will).

I agree with @jinxs2011 that the main character always being right is a stupid trope. I've mostly noticed it with amateur web fiction (much of which is just wish fulfillment rather than a real storyline). It happens much less often with professionally published novels.

EDIT: Oh, I would add that it's easiest to work foreshadowing into the story if you actually know where you're going. Even if you haven't outlined every chapter of the entire series, you at least need to know the major story beats in advance.
 

Phantomheart

Cliff Hanger Player
Joined
Feb 13, 2019
Messages
262
Points
63
It's just tough to walk that line as an author because you already know the development from the start, so everything feels obvious to you. You end up getting the urge to dial things back and make it too subtle as a result. It's also tough because we're living in an era where "subverting expectations" and twists in stories is so expected that you end up with a paranoid audience that's constantly second guessing your story, trying to be the smart one that predicts your big reveal ahead of time first. It makes it feel like no piece of foreshadowing will ever be subtle enough because people will be throwing every prediction at the wall in hopes that one hits the mark.
Tell me about it! It gets difficult trying to implement foreshadowing because you need to have the ability to gauge your audience, and if your little hints are subtle enough but also obvious enough to piece together in retrospective. That's why I am glad for sites like SH because you can see their reactions chapter by chapter conversely to writing out stories completely and then publishing them completely without any feedback (assuming you have no editor or beta reader available) because then you know your audience and can gauge which hints work out in the long haul.
 

GDLiZy

Tale Admirer
Joined
Dec 23, 2018
Messages
366
Points
93
Good foreshadowing is when you have to read it the second time to spot it.
 

keitaro-sempai

The First Will's Origin
Joined
Sep 21, 2019
Messages
68
Points
18
My novels are basically made of foreshadowing. The prologue is way ahead, like, arc two is ending and is still ahead. Then you have pieces of MC's plan all over the path to climax in both arcs.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2019
Messages
537
Points
93
i just really write whatever i want. if there's anything usable for the next chapter, i use it, otherwise, I'll drop it.

more often than not, the one that got struck by the foreshadowing is myself. i didn't notice it actually end up with such twist. and that's one of the enjoyable things to encounter while writing.
 

BenJepheneT

god™ Left Us With An iPad On 20% Charge
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Messages
1,692
Points
113
Another thing with Omens is, sometimes, readers just don't get it. Doesn't mean it's not effective. I'm not for dumbing down a major part of a story just so people would understand it.
and here's lies the crux of the issue - when is the omen not effective? im speaking for those who hasnt had a readerbase yet. how do you know for sure that the omen is just enough to be a dangling yet non-suspicious hook? of course you can't judge it yourself - you were the one dangling the hook, damn it
 

Cascadian

Hobby writer
Joined
Jan 1, 2019
Messages
86
Points
33
so I'd like to hear everyone elses' thoughts!
I have yet to buil-up any major story arch that would offer such an opportunity. I do know major upcoming events in the story, so I will likely do some when I get a chance to.

But so far, I have just been using micro foreshadows, in the form of chapter titles, I like to believe my chapter titles are tiny punchlines to a joke the readers only get after the chapter... but whether they are a good punchline or not... that's a different matter...
 
Top