Saturday, February 04, 2012

Randomly Foreshadowing

By Keith N Fisher

I’m writing to you from my living room this morning and that’s a blessing. If I had health insurance I would most probably be in the hospital. Life took a drastic turn for me this week when an ultrasound confirmed the swelling in my leg was indeed a blood clot.

Many things changed and new experiences were thrust upon me. I learned to give myself an injection twice a day, I went into deeper debt, and plans were changed. When asked if I could go to work, my doctor wondered if I could keep my leg elevated. “I work graveyard shift at a convenience store,” I said. I’m on my feet, lifting, organizing and cleaning all night.”

My boss is terrific, and arranged the schedule to give me time to get healthy again. I had planned to attend the book launch for Targets in Ties, by Tristi Pinkston, but was forced to cancel so a nurse could come and take my blood.

Also, I planned to attend LTUE next weekend, but I’m not sure I’ll be able. (Maybe if I promised to elevate my leg?) Anyway, with all this time on my hands, you’d think I’d be writing, but worry and other preoccupations have rendered me incapable. I agonized over what to write this morning, so I decided to tell you what’s up.

Have you ever noticed how random our lives seem to be? Things change in a heartbeat according to the old cliché, but do they? As writers we learn to foreshadow events in our stories. A reader hates to be taken completely off guard. They love to pride themselves on figuring out the mystery. We use foreshadowing for continuity because nobody likes a series of random events strung together in a story.

There is no foreshadowing in real life, however, or is there? We marvel how random accidents occur daily, in our lives. We wish for the ability to predict and avoid pitfalls, hoping for smooth paths. I admit, some things happen with no warning. Often, however, we look back on events and see a series of warnings left unheeded and kick ourselves, saying, “If only I had paid attention.”

So, it should be with fiction. Characters need to be able to look back and see the signs, but there is a danger. Have you ever read a foreshadowing event, so obvious, it insults your intelligence? You wonder how the characters could be so stupid as to not see it. Writers need to make it subtle. The reader (and the character) must be taken off guard, then realize they should’ve seen it coming. After all the signs were all there.

Give your character challenges, but make sure those challenges don’t randomly pop up. Don’t make her wreck the car without having established she owns one. Don’t kill him in a plane crash without showing us the purchased airline tickets. Why is your character on that flight anyway?

Hope to see you at LTUE. I’ll be the one with his leg up. Good luck in your writing---see you next week.


Carolyn Twede Frank said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your blood clot. My husband went through the same thing a few years ago. Luckily, my daughter is an RN and she gave him the shots. I hope you can make it to LTUE. If I see you, I'll make sure you have your leg up, or I'll reprimand you. Loved your analogy to foreshadowing.
Hang in there.

M.K. said...

I agree with you that foreshadowing is easy to do incorrectly.

Now following your blog.

Avanija Saket said...

Sorry to hear about your blood clot.

Yup! You are right about foreshadowing. One cannot give everything to the reader on a platter. Foreshadowing is a subtle art, which should compel the readers to think logically.

Interesting post. Enjoyed reading it!