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While there are many different methods of foreshadowing, common approaches for writers include the use of dialog to hint at what may occur, events or actions to create hints, and hints through titles or other types of metadata. Dialog is often an excellent way for a writer to hint at what is to come, though it should not be blatant. Certain events or images within the story can also act as foreshadowing, usually creating a sense of suspense or danger. Even the name of a work or a chapter title can hint at what is going to happen and make a reader want to know more.
Foreshadowing is a literary technique in which an author presents an idea that hints at actions or events that are to come within the work. One way to create this type of hint is for a writer to have a character speak a line of dialog that acts as foreshadowing. This can be somewhat precarious for writers, however, as excessive hinting in this way can make characters seem prescient or provide too much information for a reader. It is typically better for a character to say something like “I feel like I’m forgetting something,” rather than “I feel like I forgot to turn off my oven, which can make my house explode.”
Events and images within a story can also work as excellent methods of foreshadowing. A writer might describe a scene in which someone is sitting at a table, surrounded by shadows, with a large knife lying on the table in front of him. This immediately creates a sense of foreboding and makes the reader wonder what is going to happen, specifically with the knife. Another story might use action as a method of foreshadowing, perhaps showing a character who is clumsy throughout the story and eventually dies when he trips down a flight of stairs.
Metadata, which is information about the story outside of the actual text, can also be used to create foreshadowing. This is commonly seen in many books and other forms of entertainment in which the title of the book hints at the action that is going to occur. More specific foreshadowing can be created through the inclusion of titles for individual chapters or sections. A story about someone’s financial ruin over the course of a year might be broken up into three sections named “Spring,” “Summer,” and “Fall;” each name serves to indicate the setting, as well as hinting at the tone of the action within that section.