Process Post: Foreshadowing

Later on, I’ll talk more about structure in popular genre fiction, which is basically “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you just told them, and repeat.” 

What we think of as foreshadowing is kind of just an extreme version of the constant foreshadowing that we need to be giving readers all the time: tell them what you’re going to tell them…a LOT. 

Seriously, when you go looking through top writers’ work, it’s all over the place. If you get through more than a page or two of a book without running into some kind of basic-level, not-a-clue-just-low-level-stuff foreshadowing, I’d be surprised. 

When I first started typing things in, it was one of the things I was most surprised about: so much of a story has nothing to do with action, description of the things the characters see, or even dialogue. Writers spend a lot of their wordcount telling you what they’re going to tell you, reminding you of context, and summing up what they just told you. It happens so constantly that it becomes insivislble. Toss in characters telling you about their emotions, thoughts, and memories, and stories are positively packed with things that aren’t action. 

It’s almost as though we read for meaning and emotion, not just action!

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