Foreshadowing and Breadcrumbs

When writing fiction, in particular, and sometimes real life stories, the art of foreshadowing can pull the reader through your story. You want to pull your reader through your entire book, because then, your reader will have read your whole book.

Foreshadowing Definition—To present an indication or suggestion beforehand or to foretell an event before it happens. For example: On a dark, and stormy night, the girl shivered under her covers. This is somewhat of a cliché opening for many novels. I hope you avoid this particular string of words. However, the foreshadowing comes from the suggestion that something is going to happen. What? We don’t know. But when it does happen, we’re ready for it.

Using foreshadowing can make your writing works interesting and intriguing. You can be clever about dropping these hints of what is to come. It can be a thought one of your characters has, depending on your point of view. It can be the way you describe the environment or the way a character behaves. Only you can decide what works for your story. Just remember, you can use foreshadowing in all genres, not just mysteries, where we see it more obviously. Even if you are writing real-life stories, this can be a good technique to keep your readers intrigued and reading.

One of my writing teachers a long time ago said that you should open your story with a problem and keep hinting of how it might be resolved, until you finally resolve it. Bring questions to the reader’s mind that makes them want to keep reading. This is what foreshadowing offers.

Another technique that works well with foreshadowing is Breadcrumbs. The breadcrumb method allows you to drop tiny pieces all through your manuscript that leads your readers to the final resolution. Like in the use of actual breadcrumbs to leave a trail that you can retrace, such as the one used in the folktale Hansel and Gretel. Foreshadowing can work early in your story, but later you can use breadcrumbs to drop clues that take you to the end.

Breadcrumb Definition—Tiny pieces of bread is the official definition. However, this technique used in writing or telling stories is like dropping actual pieces of bread along a trail that you can follow. Instead of actual “bread,” these breadcrumbs are little clues that help readers follow the thread of the story to the end. Another definition explains it in this way: having an ending that returns to the beginning. Using the breadcrumbs, like the foreshadowing, keeps the reader engaged in the story. For example: (Beg.) Making puppets requires knowledge of characters. What makes them interesting are not the major construction but in the small details, such as a unique smile, shape and size of eyes, and possibly a facial anomaly like a mole or birth mark. (End) The puppet creator catches the nuances of a person’s character, which allows her to make a puppets that are replicas of individuals.

 

How to Write a Good Hook

A good hook not only intrigues us and peaks our interest but also frustrates and gives you a sense of urgency that causes you to read further. According to Writer’s Digest, this is a simple formula. “Create the stakes (and the suspense) in your story. Show your reader something she wants, and then threaten it.”

 

A good example would be:

The elderly woman now on oxygen answered the phone to a Jaimacan-speaking man telling her she had won 10 million dollars. Miss Ida Mae and her husband had worked hard all their lives and had lived a good life. Miss Ida Mae’s husband, George, had passed only 13 months ago. She had high hopes of leaving a legacy for her daughters.

The Jaimacan man told her that he would be seeing her in just a few days to bring her the money. “But Mahm, Ah need you to pay the taxes. It’s only $4,000. You cahn send thaht to me aht Western Union.”

Of course, you still have to keep the interest going throughout your story. In some ways, you take your readers on a roller coaster ride. The formula continues, the appeal of your main character(s) and the stakes and suspense of the problem faced, followed by it being threatened. There are reversals and complications and many other twists and turns to make a story that will keep your reader reading throughout your book.

Why would you use a formula? Aren’t formula books terrible? Good questions. The formula discussed above works for just about any fictional writing. However, formula books are something different. That is where the same plot is reused using different characters and settings. This doesn’t work well, unless you find new and surprising things to insert into the plot.

On the other hand, many classic story plots are recycled. Almost all of the Shakespeare stories have been used over and over with success, so you cannot say that recycling plots are an issue. What becomes an issue with some writers is their use of the same plot in book after book after book. As long as people are buying their books, they will probably continue writing formula books.

Should you try to write a formula book? I wouldn’t recommend it! I suggest you tell a good story and follow its plot to its success. Using the formula for keeping readers hooked, I would recommend.

Questions for Building a Fantasy World

  1. Does this world resemble Earth?
  2. Do the laws of nature and physics differ in this world?
  3. Is magic present in this world? How do you know? What part does magic play in this world?
  4. What do the people look like in this world? Do they look like humans, elves or dwarfs?
  5. What is the culture and ethnic diversity in this world?
  6. How old is this world? Did the people of this world evolve or did they come from another world…where?
  7. Are there a lot of people in this world? What sort of villages, towns or cities do they live in?
  8. How does magic power work in this world? Does it come from a Divine Source, Life Source, or Where? What is the Source? Is it finite or infinite?
  9. What are these magical people like?
  10. What are the physical characteristics of this world? Similar to Earth, more Moon like, etc.?

The Writer’s Platform

No, a Writer’s Platform is not the kind of platform that you stand upon, at least, not literally. Let’s take the image of a platform, stage, podium, dais, or display raised area and think about it more metaphorically. The Writer’s Platform is basically all the things you are doing to market yourself. These days, you call it your brand. Everything you do should be to build your brand.

I know, I know, I’m talking about you as the brand. How can you sell yourself as a writer, isn’t it enough that you wrote a book? Unfortunately, no! You’ve got to not only sell the book but the writer, as well! Other ways to think about your Writer’s Platform is your visibility or your ability to sell books. These are the things that are supporting you in your marketing of you, as an author.

Even if you are going the traditional route of publishing through a publishing house, such as Simon and Schuster, Scholastic, or Random House, you need to develop a Writer’s Platform. In some cases, having a developed platform will help sell your manuscript to the Agent and/or Publisher.

Building your Writer’s Platform doesn’t have to be difficult. Set your intentions as a writer. Whether you have begun to write your book or not, this is a good place to start. Naturally, writing your book is part of your intention. However, there are many more similarities to beginning your own business. Build a Website and/or Blog with as large of a readership as you can create. A newsletter with, hopefully, a large readership could also be part of your platform. Article writing for major publications in your area of expertise and guest blog or Website contributions to successful blogs and Websites are definitely a plus. Other parts of your platform could include Public Speaking Engagements -the larger the audiences are best; a large presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other Social Media; membership in organizations that celebrate successes; recurring media appearances and interviews; a track record of strong book sales; and individuals of influence – media, celebrities, and anyone who can aid you in marketing without additional costs.

Other avenues to building your Platform can include teaching on the topic of your book(s); self-publishing your book or creating e-books; establish an online community to explore your topic; offer coaching, consulting, or editing; create a subscription publication on your topic; offer tips, and share your content with similar or compatible businesses.

 

Writing for Young Adults

Writing Irrisitible Kidlit by Mary Kole from Writer’s Digest Books (www.writersdigest.com) discusses everything from target audience to. To write for the young adult reader, Kole writes, “Remember the electricity of adolescence? You have your first love, your first seriously bad decision, your first moment of profound pride, the first time you’re a hero.”

Young adults (YA) like most genres. Fantasy is big with the YA market, but so is romance. One of the biggest errors that writers who want to write for this audience make is forcing the characters into a genre, because you think that’s what is selling right now, Kole explains. YAs have a good BS (bullshit) meter, so when you write for this audience, you must be authentic. Trying to force your story won’t cut it for this target audience.

 Characters need to be fully developed for the YA audience.

Writing Your Elevator Speech

Your ELEVATOR SPEECH is a short version of your sales pitch, a description of your main product, or service, and who you are. Your ELEVATOR SPEECH is a fundamental element of marketing your business. It’s a very short version and as its name implies, this needs to be so compact that you can deliver it on an average elevator ride, approximately 30-60 seconds.

The number one thing we must look at, however, is your audience. Equally important is the hook that you use to pull your listener into you short talk. Stories usually have a beginning, middle, and end. While an elevator speech is a very, very short story, it does not follow the normal story format with the exception of the “hook.”

Your hook asks a question or makes a statement that entices your listener to hear what you’ve got to say. There are a lot of different perspectives on for who or what you should focus, but that really depends on your audience.

Most business people are going to be giving an elevator speech to potential clients/customers. Therefore, your focus is going to be a sales pitch. However, if you are in front of potential investors, then you need to focus more on you and why they should invest in your company.

Let’s look at your elevator speech for a potential client: Your hook is likely to be their problem, which is followed, of course, by what your, product or services might do to solve this problem. For example: Do your clients respect you for your knowledge? A book would help them see you as an authority figure. I have a workshop starting in December, would you like to join?

This is your whole sales pitch in three sentences. Your elevator speech can be a bit longer, but it needs to hook the client with their problem and offer them the solution that your company can fix.