Letting your Tapestry have Loose Threads (Foreshadowing)


One of the great techniques used to enhance a book is foreshadowing.  It easy to do wrong, such as doing it so heavy handed and obvious that there is no surprise when the eventual pay off happens because you expect it.  The other extreme is easy to accidentally do, to slip one line in the background and then not reference it again until a book or two later.  When this second thing happens some readers might not even think it was not truly planned out, but that you just randomly took something that happened and gave it significance after the fact (hint: see Lost).

I just saw “The Dark Knight Rises” and it my mind ended what I believe to be the best cinematic trilogy I have seen.  The primary reason for this is a lot of inventive foreshadowing from the earlier movies, that if it was not planned, was done so perfect that it seems so.  At the same time not all of it was expected either.  In the blog I will not directly spoil events that happened in that movie, but I will refer to techniques used (seriously, spoiler free, any examples I give illustrating points will not be from the movie but might be from my own books).

The best technique that I gleaned from the film was when hiding a plot thread that will have later significance but you do not want to make it too obvious at the time, is to have the conversation have a completely different set significance.  That way you can do something like tell a story that gives examples of how ruthless a character is.  The event’s told all point to this and focus on this.  During that story of the past however a character may be introduced as an example of an object lesson in how ruthless the antagonist is, but the seeds might be planted for that same person to come back later and be a character you have already met, without knowing the connection between the two.  The actuakl importnace of the character may also have nothing to do with the original display of ruthlessness.

Another good use to make foreshadowing have more of an affect is misdirection.  Purposely be heavy handed through something “obvious” like prophecy or even physical descriptions.  Make it so that it “must” happen a certain way and “of course” this person will grow up to be Captain.  At the same time you can plant many hints that another person could be Captain too, but “overwhelming evidence” points to the wrong person and only a second reading reveals how much the quiet young person in the corner was better suited all along, but looking at the obvious had obfuscated this.

The final technique I think I saw but did not have proof of was to purposely keep a few threads open, but not attach a reason for them yet. If you do it too often it can go back to the earlier flaw of being so obscure no one believes it was purposeful.  If only done a little bit though, such as knowing someone’s boyfriend left them under strange circumstances, or having a locket always around someone’s neck clues in the reader this is a mystery that might be important later. You do not necessarily have to even plan out what this may be, or you may have two or three ideas and he let the actual flow of the narrative dictate what is the most common sense conclusion and then use it.  No matter what letting a few loose threads fray at the end may help you weave a more beautiful tapestry later.

In case not all the announcements have made it to you I wanted let you know the results of polls and what is happening with the current books:

The second book in the Allmother’s Fire trilogy will now be called “Rise From the Sun Below.”  This book is past the one third mark, maybe around 37% complete or so for the firstfDraft.

The epic thriller fantasy novel will be called “Mandatory Paradise”.  Although sporadically edited by multiple editors in the past it is now a good 85% done through a longer very thorough editing.  The last sentence was not intended to offend any Leprechauns or their family (you know who you are).  Currently I am looking to see who I would want to do the cover Art, and plan to choose before the end of the month.

Just like I asked advice for titles, I will now get some vague advice towards the cover, to have something to give the cover artist.  This is for the Mandatory Paradise novel.

The Mandatory Paradise novel cover should be:

1)Mainly symbolic.  Although it can tie into things from the book, the cover should reinforce the name of the book.

2)An Actual scene: A specific occurrence from the book should be the focus:

3)People or Objects or Locations from the book: It does not need to be an actual scene, but it should represent physical people or objects that are unique to the book

4)A combination of these things.  If you choose this, please clarify what you mean in the comments below!

World Tid Bit:

Since my next focus (not in terms of what I am writing, but in terms of marketing and getting published) is Mandatory Paradise, I will start giving tidbits about it.  This will also help when it comes to ideas for the story description.

The book takes place on an Island named “Nimoa.”  On this island it’s inhabitants live pretty perfect lives.  Their nation houses them, gives them all the sustenance and wine they want, entertains them, and gives them roles to carry out in their lives.  They are safe, never knowing war, and rarely do the Legions even have to act against common criminals, for they are few.  Why have crime when you get everything you want anyway?

Part of why they know they are safe is because the whole island is surrounded by a mystical shield.  On the other side of the shield they can see all the monsters and myths of legends careening in the sky, and destroying the outside world.  As long as they listen to what they are told they are safe, happy and protected, right?

So what happens when a massacre occurs that makes their entire existence seem suspect?

That is the setting for Mandatory Paradise.

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About mdkenning

E-book clockpunk fantasy author View all posts by mdkenning

2 responses to “Letting your Tapestry have Loose Threads (Foreshadowing)

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