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.


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