Foreshadowing is a skill a writer must master as he works toward making art. It requires a delicate touch: if it’s too subtle, the reader will miss it; if it’s too heavy-handed, the rest of the story is unnecessary.
You can build in foreshadowing details as you go, leading the reader even as you write. Or when you get to the end of the story and realize that you need to add this element, you can go back and put it where it needs to go. The reader won’t know you stuck it in later. Sometimes, a sentence you write just as part of the narrative ends up as foreshadowing; you successfully lead yourself through your own story.
Author Cathy Clamp tells how she uses foreshadowing to alert her readers to elements of the story she wants to emphasize. The Foreshadowing page at UDL Editions gives some excellent examples of foreshadowing.
Most of us read Shirley Jackson’s famous short story “The Lottery” when we were in school. Schoolbytes shows us how Jackson used foreshadowing to hint at what was to come. And BookRags summarizes the ways William Shakespeare foreshadowed the action in Macbeth.
Do you have a favorite example of foreshadowing to share?