How do you foreshadow?

Foreshadowing is a sneaky way of hinting at some big twist or big event that’s coming up. The characters may or may not know that it will happen, the readers may or may not guess something is up, but the writer does. The writer is doing the evil laugh while doing foreshadowing.

Usually it’s something bad. Is it ever good?

Anyway, I’ve been using visions to foreshadow events. I don’t make it super obvious, of course, but I do at least hope that the readers won’t gloss over it too much. It’s interesting/unique enough to capture their attention, but not so much that it’s obviously foreshadowing. The events, or anything leading up to the events, also don’t happen right away.

That’s how I’ve been doing it in Lunar Heart, Shadow Bound.

So, how do you foreshadow? And do you think there’s a “best way”?


I try to, consciously or not, use ‘Chekhov’s gun’, which says something like…if there’s a gun in the first act of the story, then it must be fired by the third.

Now, I guess you could apply this one of two ways. Or maybe both.

One is to figure out what you want to happen and which elements you need for it, so you can introduce them early on in your story.

Or you’ve got certain elements which you introduce early in the story (things that come up from character interactions or scene setting or what have you), and then you reuse these elements later on.

I hope that makes sense. I feel like I’ve just explained what foreshadowing is without actually saying how I do it :joy: I can’t think of any examples right now, because I rarely consciously plan foreshadowing. I’m more of an option B person, where I gather up my ideas and see what happens when I let them loose :sweat_smile:


Oh, I just remembered I used foreshadowing in one of my historical stories, where there’s a present-day scene in a graveyard early in the story with the tomb of the characters from the historical timeline. That gives an oblique glimpse as to what’s coming in the past. This was option B because I posted as I wrote and the graveyard scene just came to me, then I had to make sure it fit with the parallel story in the past :joy:

LE with an example of option A - in my other historical fic, the first chapter opens with a scene where the main character opens a window and frees a caged canary, which I guess foreshadows how she will also fly free into the world, in search of adventures. Here I knew she was going to leave home and specifically chose this scene to mirror that.


Foreshadoing is thematic, to me. Its the pieces you don’t drop.

Some character tries prediction? That’s an ill omen, too often.

A character is clunsy? Make it part of whatever is going on with them, in the end.

But I dont use it as an art.


That’s an interesting foreshadowing technique. I’ve definitely seen this tactic in movies. It’s more metaphorical, right? I tend to be quite straightforward with fantasy. Is this a scene you created in the beginning or is it something that came up as you edited?


So, if a character has a temper, or is aloof from their family, toward the end, readers realize it stems from something. It’s not just that they have a temper for no good reason. Is that kind of what you’re saying?

That sounds more like just revealing that the character is deeper than we thought. Not really foreshadowing. Idk…maybe foreshadowing is broader than I thought.

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I draw the number four and put a shadow underneath it



Alright, Churros, I see you XD

Now, to answer seriously?


:flushed: Couldn’t help myself.

Set up something earlier in the book, and slowly and subtly set it up in the background. Feed breadcrumbs.


Do you make it obvious that it’s a foreshadowing? Or no?


I try not to, but sometimes it ends up being obvious :joy:

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I’m more saying that if its too fancy and that’s the level that fireahadowing is, then its often a waste of use.

Foreshadowing in Writing: Definition and Examples | Grammarly.

Overehelmingly, most foreshdowing is jsut not dropping the plot, specifcally in social commentary.

For example, in Mini Moo, in the middle of an overexadutated fight, the MC asked a bunch of guys if they wrre dumb enough to start dating someone thwt only knew for 4 days.

At most, from meeting to boyfriend/girlfriend is 3 weeks. Apparently the MC is dumb enough to rush dating, just like those who she derides for taking even less time.

But seriously, this is as simple as the defintion gets:

Foreshadowing is a plot element that hints at something later in the story.

That simple, and there’s no big difference between any other plot device and foreshadowing than himting.

So, looking at it in contrast to every other type:

Indeed, readers usually won’t recognize foreshadowing until they reach the end of a book.

Because of this, foreshadowing doesn’t drive a story as much as other plot devices do.,as%20other%20plot%20devices%20do.

So, from this angle, the clumsy in To Make a Kinder Children’s Tale serves as mroe than 1 type of plot device: its the catalyst for the storyline’s start, but isn’t the main plot. It serves as an underlying theme throughout most the story, but it doesnt drive the story. Specifcally, the clumsiness is resolved as a secondary part of the main plot, a throwaway twist to the story. Ultimately. I show that fixing this issue doesn’t change anything.

So. I don’t know. It was more than being clumsy, and it wasnt the primary purpose of the story. And it isnt immediately obvious that this thing is going places.

Now, the difference between foreshadowing and my use, there, was that jt was something rhat was built on over time. Foreshdowing usually doesnt do that.

So, if you want to kind of limit its scope, then you go with: “It shows up twice in a story: one to warn and once to do”.

That would be a lot less things.

In fact. The only thing I can guarantee comes up twice, currently, in my writing is a foreshadowing even in the first few chaotwrs of biik on of the Assassin’s Journals and tail end of biok 4 beginning book 5.


Yep, and it did come up at the very beginning, as I was writing the first chapter. And then when closing the story, I made another reference to the canary that may have perished in the wild, despite being ‘free’, which dovetailed into the nefarious consequences of the MC’s danger-chasing adventures.


I like it when stories do this. Then you’re like "Oooooooooooooooooh :open_mouth: " Gasp.

That’s clever :grin:

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Haha, yeah. That was basically a natural consequence of the opening scene, so I guess in a way it wrote itself, heh. And I also remember reading about one of those how-to books, a famous which I don’t recall the title of, but it had a breakdown of the story sequence and the one thing I remember is that the closing scene should mirror/echo the opening scene.

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Throughout my three connected series, I do quite a bit of foreshadowing. It’s mostly flashbacks and prophecies (e.g., in the first book of the Photon Cycle there’s mention of a prophecy that ends up being the plot of book 7 of Inter-Universal Protectors).

I also have a lot of events that set up bigger things which all lead to one big thing and some characters which have minor leads in some scenes that end up being pretty important characters (e.g., Xix actually has a few scenes in books 1 and 2 of Inter-Universal Protectors before becoming a main in book 3).

I don’t think there’s a “best way” to foreshadow. Just do what works in the context of your story.


How do you format this?

A separate chapter?
Separate paragraph with a divider?

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My flashbacks are in my prologues but their importance isnt always clear. The prophecies are more just there in the background or as a sidenote

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So, it comes up in dialogue? Or narration?

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Well, that’s definitely classic. Like Tolkien.

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