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MorganHawke
Posted: Monday, April 25, 2011 5:20:41 PM

Rank: First Person Smartass

Joined: 2/8/2011
Posts: 345
Location: The suburbs.

Foreshadowing is when the opening scene of a story is a kind of nutshell prophecy for the whole story.


The Beginning

* In a Horror, this is when the originating Bad Thing happens.
* In a Mystery or Crime story, it's when the first victim is slain, and/or object (McGuffin) goes missing.
* In a Sci-fi, this is where the ruling Theory is presented.
* In a Gothic, this is where the main character meets the monster he is about to become.
* In Erotica & Romances this is where the main character meets their soon-to-be lover for a fleeting but memorable moment.

This also reveals the Premise, or ruling argument that the story is trying to illustrate; what the story is trying to Prove.

• The results of Revenge
• The path of Ambition
• The reality of Love
• The pain of being Different

The Middle

The meat of the story should fulfill that prophecy using twists, turns, and surprises that compel the reader to Keep Reading to discover 'what's really going on?' Never forget: The readers DON'T want to see what's coming. They want to figure it out THEMSELVES.

However, if you intend to use (what looks like) chance and coincidence to move your plot you're going to need careful preparation. Using deus ex machina (situations, objects, and helpers that were just suddenly THERE without explanation,) is unacceptable. The author should NEVER pull a rabbit out of their hat simply to rescue their hero.

The trick is to put the plot element into your story EARLY without making the reader aware of its importance. Never telegraph your punches. Every choice made MUST seem logical for that character.

The Conclusion

The last part is what that prophecy brought about--what happened BECAUSE of the events in the story.

* Were the guilty punished?
* Was the lost object or person found? Plus who did it and why?
* Did the lover gain the attention of their beloved?
* Was the scientific theory convincing? (Or horrifying enough?)
* Did the monster reconcile with their nature?

Always complete each circle you began. Solve EVERY problem presented, no matter how small. Any unsolved problems become Plot Holes your readers WILL notice and call you on. "Hey, whatever happened with...?"

The easiest way to do this is by keeping your Main cast SMALL.

* Hero
* Ally (buddy or lover)
* Villain

Side characters are those who occupy places in the story: the waitress, parents, coworkers, the beat cops..., but don't actually change anything. Main characters are the characters whose actions actually affect the plot.

The more Main characters you have, the more problems you add--which means the more story you have to write to solve those problems.

Enjoy!


DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.

Morgan Hawke
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Purveyor of fine Smut.
DarkErotica.Net ~ My Website
DarkErotica Blog ~ My Writers' blog

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

Mistress_of_words
Posted: Monday, April 25, 2011 6:00:58 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/14/2011
Posts: 591
Location: At my keyboard, writing stories for you
Nicely summarised.

MorganHawke wrote:

However, if you intend to use (what looks like) chance and coincidence to move your plot you're going to need careful preparation. Using deus ex machina (situations, objects, and helpers that were just suddenly THERE without explanation,) is unacceptable. The author should NEVER pull a rabbit out of their hat simply to rescue their hero.

The trick is to put the plot element into your story EARLY without making the reader aware of its importance. Never telegraph your punches. Every choice made MUST seem logical for that character.


Ah, precedent. The trick is to slip it in without it being obvious, and sometimes it's not easy :P

Usually I have to go back and re-write whole sections to address this. After my first draft of my hope-to-be-one-day-published novel I started writing on ahead into sequels to see where the story was going. In what will be book four, having switched narrators, my new MC made a wonderful observation on my first book MC that necessitated re-writing most of the first book. LOL.

And this doesn't just relate to objects or scenarios either, it relates to character's skills too. Can't have a every-man office worker type suddenly hot wire a car with no prior reference to why he might know how to do such a thing.

Thanks Morgan :D





MorganHawke
Posted: Monday, April 25, 2011 6:09:53 PM

Rank: First Person Smartass

Joined: 2/8/2011
Posts: 345
Location: The suburbs.
Mistress_of_words wrote:
Nicely summarised.


Thank you!

Mistress_of_words wrote:
Ah, precedent. The trick is to slip it in without it being obvious, and sometimes it's not easy :P Usually I have to go back and re-write whole sections to address this.


This happens a lot to me too, but it's absolutely necessary of you want a water-tight plot. Thank the gods that my beta-readers are fantastic at catching things like this.

Mistress_of_words wrote:
... And this doesn't just relate to objects or scenarios either, it relates to character's skills too. Can't have a every-man office worker type suddenly hot wire a car with no prior reference to why he might know how to do such a thing.


Abso-flogging-lutely. An easy way to do that is by introducing that skill early with a short scene that shows that skill on a smaller scale. For example, fixing a transistor radio and admitting that they were once into tinkering with rewiring things they probably shouldn't have at a younger age.

Morgan Hawke
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Purveyor of fine Smut.
DarkErotica.Net ~ My Website
DarkErotica Blog ~ My Writers' blog

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

AmberGreen
Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 6:52:39 PM

Rank: Rookie Scribe

Joined: 9/13/2011
Posts: 1
I'm having trouble working this in the context of a short story. Suggestions?
nicola
Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 8:07:45 PM

Rank: Matriarch
Moderator

Joined: 12/6/2006
Posts: 27,481
AmberGreen wrote:
I'm having trouble working this in the context of a short story. Suggestions?


If it's a short story, you're going to have to be rather succinct! Certain techniques don't always lend themselves to every type of story of course.

Great advice Morgan. Regardless of the genre, you should almost always stick with the proven formula of Beginning, Middle and End. We often get stories submitted which jump right into the action, and we have no idea who any of the characters are. That's confusing from the off.
Innuendo
Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 1:56:33 PM

Rank: Rookie Scribe

Joined: 3/21/2012
Posts: 5
Location: Psst, over here., United States
There's a trick to balanced foreshadowing that is going to take me some time to get the hang of. It's an important, valuable device to use, but I feel like even when I use it in a subtle fashion, it's not enough, and a cliffhanger ending comes off more like a nasty left hook. Too easy to make the reader feel cheated, even when it wasn't meant that way.
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