Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Truth about Foreshadowing

In a novel, foreshadowing are those little hints the writer includes early on, previous to plot twists or big events. It's the foreshadowing that makes the reader say, "Oh yes, this makes perfect sense!"

Or let's say your child's favorite toys are cars, and when he is 12 and goes to get fitted for glasses and notices a sharp sports car parked in the optometrist's parking space he says, "I'd like to be an eye doctor and afford a car like that." You aren't surprised when this child decides in college to use his biology degree to go on to optometry school. Foreshadowing is how parents get to be so smart.

I used to tell my kids I had eyes in back of my head, and when they were little they believed it. I remember one little boy lifting my hair up just to check. When really it was me the English major paying attention to the compressed foreshadowing in daily life. And it's easy with kids since they leave their clues all over the place.

 Remember the South African giraffe on my blog header several years ago?

A giraffe, coming down the mountain like I was, the writer leaving her solitude and isolation to enter the community of bloggers. I thought it was why I felt the giraffe represented me and my blog.

Until I realized it was more than that. The giraffe was foreshadowing my hidden desire to go exploring in the great big wide world.

Another bit of foreshadowing:

My husband and I would seek out different kinds of restaurants in the Salt Lake area, ones that made us feel outside our usual circle. We'd sit by the window, look outside and I'd say, "This doesn't even look like Salt Lake. Let's pretend we're someplace else." And we'd talk about where else we'd like to be. Italy, or the South of France, or England. Although to be truthful, Utah in its greenest seasons never looks like any of those places.

When we announced our plans to sell everything and move to Guatemala, anyone paying attention to foreshadowing had to know it made perfect sense.


  1. Hi Karen - "foreshadowing" - a great descriptive word .. and I like how you teased your kids .. but as you say they do leave clues .. or whisper rather loudly ..

    Re foreshadowing .. did you foreshadow or hear the meteorite? Sounds interesting .. but the thump must have been quite something if you were nearby .. I expect you're not ..

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Foreshadowing is also a lot of fun to slip in: a sort of joke that the reader may or may not get later on...

  3. You did set yourself up to take on an adventure! And sounds like it was the best move of your life.

  4. I love what you've written here, weaving foreshadowing into our lives. Never thought of it that way. And yes, you have gone on a great adventure.

  5. There are signs along the way. Often we fail to see them. I need to go back and figure out what were the signs that led me to speaking, because I have no idea.

  6. A great way to view the world. You know my mom said the same thing to me about eyes in the back of her head. I tried to look but she had a beehive back in the day and I couldn't get near it. You have accomplished what most people dream or say and never actually do

  7. I love that you guys seized the adventure! It's been really fun to read along with parts of it.

  8. Funny, I tell my dogs I have eyes in the back of my head. Wonder where that will lead -- them or me. Now I must move on to Kindle Unlimited.

  9. And I wondered about that giraffe.

  10. Brilliant, Karen.
    I was just about to sprinkle some foreshadowing in my WIP, when I thought how much neater these structures are in literature. You brought out the patterns of our lives, and made me realize it is at least as present there. No fiction, this.

  11. Oh, what an exciting life change! And I love the bit of life foreshadowing there. I wish you and your husband the best on this step of the adventure called life!

  12. Dear Karen, you've really given me something to think about and maybe to blog about also. That is, what things happened earlier in life that explains what I did in my later years. Thank you. Peace.

  13. Well I've learned something today ~ thank you Karen . . . . :)

  14. As an expat wife on the move, I've learned this art of foreshadowing-- or to put it better, my husband has. Every time we move, he fore-shadows it :)

  15. I grew up reading Stephen King, so I had a habit of putting things like, "Little did he know, it would be the last day of his life" into my books at first. I had to be called out on it because apparently that's considered a no-no now? Today's foreshadowing is more like what you described--where seeds are planted earlier in the book so that people aren't surprised when things happen later.

  16. I've always considered "foreshadowing" to be kind of a sinister word. Until now, that is...

    In both books and real life, I think what you said is true.