Foreshadowing is meant to build anticipation in the minds of readers thus increasing tension. It can advance the plot by linking the present to future or past events. Another form of foreshadowing often used in mystery novels is called red herrings in which the author plants clues meant to mislead the reader into thinking something will occur that doesn’t. This leads to a surprise culmination. Foreshadowing can appear anywhere in the story—at the start or middle of scenes and chapters—as long as it enables readers to develop expectations about future story events.
Effective foreshadowing takes some skill. One strategy is to take a story event and explore what methods of foreshadowing are suggested by the event itself. A good foreshadow will prepare readers for what’s to come without allowing them to guess the plot twist but ensuring they remember the foreshadow later with an Oh yeah! A foreshadow should occur as early as possible especially for a big event.
An author has many tools in her toolbox for creating foreshadowing. Here are some examples:
Character dialogue-The character mentions something untoward but not obvious to another character.
Character actions-Both protagonists and antagonists can engage in a subtle activity that will turn out to be predictive of an event.
Description of settings-Weather conditions, towns, buildings, geographical locations can all be used to foreshadow.
Chapter titles-Consider a title like The Last Breath or No Escape.
Pre-scenes-Small scenes that imply there is something spectacular to come later. These are effective foreshadowing techniques.
Foreshadowing is an excellent strategy for creating consistent cause and effect that results in apprehension, suspense and surprise on the part of readers.