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Shadows of Things to Come December 4, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery, Word Play, Writing & Writers.

220px-Arthur-Pyle_The_Enchanter_MerlinLast February, I’d been peppering a novel with foreshadows of things to come and got stuck . . . I didn’t know what the shadows would reveal.

What disclosures would fit the characters in a believable way, and still allow the story to move forward?

Some “bombs” would have completely decimated the landscape, forming a permanent rift between my two main characters.

That’s not what I wanted because I like happy endings.

Others were so inconsequential that they seemed more like “burps” than “bombs” ~ hardly worth the effort of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for readers to follow.

My writing stalled in the shadow of things to come because I felt I needed to have the “bombs” figured out before tossing any more clues at the reader.

Then, with perfect synchronicity, Rik wrote a post on Uphill Writing, Foreshadow.  I Knew You’d Say That, about Stephen King’s practice of foreshadowing.

King explains (in On Writing) that he often adds the foreshadowing after completing the first draft.

During the second or third re-write he adds in a sprinkling of breadcrumbs for readers to chew on as they digest the story.


Write foreshadows backwards . . . to keep moving forward.


1. M. Howalt - December 4, 2010

Really good point. Thank you for sharing!

nrhatch - December 4, 2010

Thanks for swinging by and commenting. I’m off to check out your blog. 🙂

M. Howalt - December 5, 2010

You’re quite welcome. And thank you! I hope you’ll like it. 🙂

nrhatch - December 5, 2010

I loved your post on Writer’s Blogs . . . if only we had captured Dickens and Austen in that way!

I’ve subscribed to future posts as well.

2. Maggie - December 4, 2010

Always good advice – in the first draft of stories I write, there’s usually some things that I can turn into “breadcrumbs” in the second or third draft. 🙂

nrhatch - December 4, 2010

I kept alluding to this deep, dark secret . . . without knowing myself what the secret would be. I felt more and more paralyzed from moving forward.

This advice liberated me!

3. Paula Tohline Calhoun - December 4, 2010

Absolutely terrific advice! I have been at a similar standstill for several weeks with my first fiction attempt – a short story. I’m definitely filing this nugget away for future use. Thanks Nancy and thanks to Ric! I have read SK’s book (when it came out), but don’t remember this info.

nrhatch - December 4, 2010

If only we could recall ALL the great advice about writing and life we’ve read over the years . . . we would be SMARTER than the average bear and WISER than the average smartass! 🙂

4. souldipper - December 4, 2010

Very “de Bono” of Mr. King. Wonderful.

nrhatch - December 4, 2010

Indeed! A bit of lateral thinking to sidestep problems and keep moving forward.

5. Booksphotographsandartwork - December 4, 2010

Very interesting. Not being a writer myself I had no idea that you could write with allusions to something in the future and have no idea as to what they would be. I did start a little story though and a friend said I needed to add so much that it seemed as daunting as climbing Mt. Everst too me. I will keep this point in mind if I ever decide to work on it again. Love, love, love the cat clip art! my cat and dog are sound asleep on the bed beside me. so very very sweet. I am so grateful for them.

nrhatch - December 4, 2010

The cat typing away is from Avatarist.com. A fun site for clip art ~ lots of great animals to choose from.

Like you, I’m a big fan of our furry friend Tigger.

6. Tammy McLeod - December 4, 2010

I love reading about how “real” writers write. This is great info although I haven’t read Stephen King’s book. But I like the idea that some of this comes after the first draft! My son just had to read The Pearl for his English class and it’s such a challenge for me to listen to some of the analytics. Ok, that’s my issue with Steinbeck but I’ll bet that some of it came after the first draft.

nrhatch - December 4, 2010

I expect that the best way to write a “classic” is in layers ~ adding depth with each draft.

7. theonlycin - December 4, 2010

Good advice, thanks 🙂

nrhatch - December 4, 2010

From King to Scott to here to there . . . wonder if King borrowed it from one of his predecessors? 😉

8. 4minutewriter - December 5, 2010

Isn’t that how our real lives work at times too- once we’ve arrived at a new stage we look back and see all the small things along the way that ‘foreshadowed’/led us to where we are. But it’s not until the new stage is ‘written’ that we can place the foreshadowing past…

nrhatch - December 5, 2010

I love that analogy, Zoe.

When I look back on my life I see the subtle shifts required to to keep me on track ~ arriving where I needed to be when I needed to be there.

9. Alannah Murphy - December 5, 2010

Very good advice. I found myself doing what King does, adding things only after the first draft was written, but I had to finish the entire novel to see where to go back and put in those breadcrumbs. Of course, now I am re-writing the entire thing, or rather, I will sometime soon but I am using a lot of what I did write so all is not lost. Looking forward to hearing more about your novel Nancy.

nrhatch - December 5, 2010

Adding the breadcrumbs is like putting sprinkles on a completed sundae . . . FUN!

I have several novels in various stages of completion, repair, and disrepair. I tend to let them incubate in private . . . at least until they get just a bit cuter. 😉

10. Naomi - December 5, 2010

Makes a lot of sense – thanks for sharing that breadcrumb, Nancy! Loving your little black cat too 🙂

nrhatch - December 5, 2010

Definitely an idea to keep in our writer’s bag of tricks.

11. Richard W Scott - December 5, 2010

Well summerized and presented.

Also, thanks for the tip of the hat, Nancy. Always appreciated.

nrhatch - December 5, 2010

You’re welcome! It was fun looking around some of your earliest posts again. 🙂

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