Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Authors on the Delicacy of Foreshadowing

"For me the problem with obvious foreshadowing--the "had I but known" variety--is that it makes the reader aware that this is a story of past events, being retold, AND that the narrator got away safely, or wouldn't now be telling the tale.

I like my readers to feel that a story is unfolding before their eyes, that they are watching from behind a curtain, so to speak. Also that the outcome is not certain."

Rhys Bowen, author of the Evan Evans, Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness mystery novels, winner of the Agatha and Anthony Awards.

"You lay the groundwork early, well before you need it. For example, show up-front that a supporting character's morals are ambiguous, then plot your protagonist into a position of being forced to trust that supporting character at a crucial moment. By the time your protagonist goes forth to trust the other character, you don't need a blatant "If only I had known" statement because the reader is already squirming with implied foreshadowing."

Suzanne Adair, author of Paper Woman (2007 Patrick D. Smith Award winner), The Blacksmith's Daughter, Camp Follower (2009 nominee for Daphne du Maurier and Sir Walter Raleigh awards)