Today on Writer’s Glossary…
Foreshadowing can sometimes be mistaken for a red herring, but they are very different. A red herring is designed to deliberately mislead the reader and is often used in mysteries. In contrast, foreshadowing offers a suggestion of a definite outcome later in the story.
Often, foreshadowing is only noticed, once the story reaches its climax and the reader thinks back.
For instance, a funny or kind character may catch and kill a spider in chapter 2, only to be revealed as cruel or a murderer by the end of the story. The killing of the spider early on, foreshadows the character’s true character or what they are forced to become by the events of the story.
Writers will go back over their story to make sure they foreshadow key events, otherwise some plot points can seem like coincidences or that characters are acting against their original motivations. Foreshadowing is an important tool for tying the plot together and bringing added depth to the writing, as well as making the reader feel like the writer is some kind of plotting genius. This is of course our life goal.