15 March 2010


Whether you have a critique group or simply valued and trusted readers, you may receive feedback about some element not working in your story. Often the readers, in an attempt to be helpful, attempt to come up with reasons why something doesn't work or give advice about how to improve the questionable section(s).

However, I usually find the problem occurs because the element -- plot twist, character reaction, goal, motivation, whatever -- comes out of the blue with no or little warning.

A simple solution: foreshadowing.

If someone is going to die at the Crisis towards the end of the Beginning, make sure you introduce the concept of death as early as possible -- preferably first scene -- either as a metaphor or some sort of death, not necessarily big. Could be as simple as a dead insect or small bird or whatever. 

If the protagonist decides to get a job in the Middle, be sure the idea of no money, need for a job, or the concept of working is introduced in the Beginning (1/4) of the project -- this can be done by some other character and does not have to be obvious. None of what I'm talking about here is blatant, but more subtle = foreshadowing. 

Don't forget. The Beginning (1/4) is in the introductory mode -- introduction of all the characters, setting, theme, concepts that will come later, anything and everything that will be deepened in the story later is introduced up front or foreshadowed in the Beginning. 

Foreshadowing is an essential, yet often overlooked, skill that helps to make the scenes flow and the story feel seamless.