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  • David Richardson

To Foreshadow or Not To Foreshadow – That Is The Question!

Learning From The Master - Shakespeare

I’ve had my nose buried in Romeo and Juliet this last week, preparing my next book for ZigZag Education. One of the aspects I’ll be highlighting for classroom study is foreshadowing.

Foreshadowing involves dropping hints in an earlier part of your story of what’s going to happen in a later part. Basically, you’re letting the reader know what’s coming up. It encourages them to keep reading.

"I Could A Tale Unfold"

It was a thought-provoking coincidence when I got into conversation about foreshadowing with Debbie Edwards on the SCBWI Central East Network Facebook page: Thought-provoking for me personally that is, and my own work in progress (WIP).

Foreshadowing is an excellent method to create anticipation for the reader, helping them to engage closely with the story. By giving them an idea of what’s coming up, they want to know how the story develops and how things turn out.

"What’s in A Name?"

There are two basic ways to foreshadow – a subtle, sideways mention of something that is going to happen, also known as implicit or indirect foreshadowing; and a very obvious method of telling it straight to the reader, known as explicit or direct foreshadowing.

The master that Shakespeare is does both.

Romeo and Juliet begins with the chorus – a narrator, announcing to the audience that the play is about two warring families with an ‘ancient grudge’, and ‘a pair of star-crossed lovers’ who will die and ‘bury their parents’ strife.’ Can’t really get more explicit than that.

But we have other more subtle foreshadowing. For example, in Act 3, Scene 2 we have Juliet bemoaning Romeo’s banishment for murder as being like death to her. And Romeo being warned by Friar Laurence not to speak about suicide in Act 3, Scene 3.

All very implied – but all very much on point. This isn't going to end well folks, just like we told you at the start, they’re both heading for their doom.

By building this sense of foreboding in the audience, it creates an ever-growing apprehension that it's not going to end well. They become emotionally connected with the characters. They want to stay with the play through to the bitter end!

"Rude Am I In My Speech"

Debbie’s Facebook post was thought-provoking for me, because it made me realize that I need to include more foreshadowing in my own WIP, especially in the opening pages. So, whilst continuing with my Shakespeare book for ZigZag Education, I'm afraid it’s back to Act 1, Scene 1 of my own novel.

And no, I didn’t see that coming!


Debbie pointed me in the direction of this post – thanks Debbie, for your help:

If you’re a teacher or work in Education, here’s the ZigZag Education website:

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