Why should you foreshadow

Not only does it create suspense and curiosity, it also allows the reader to participate in the story through expectations. All of these things draw the reader deeper into the fictional dream and keeps the pages turning.

The difference between foreshadowing and setup

Example: A storm is foreshadowed by rain. A prophecy is setup through explicit announcement.

Foreshadowing is subtle, sometimes hidden. It implies things without being explicit, without drawing attention to itself. Setup must always be explicit.

How to foreshadow

The shadow must always precede the event. The other way around is known as after-shadowing.

The shadow must point in the right direction. Foreshadowing does not involve red herrings!

The shadow mustn’t contain spoilers. Don’t reveal exactly what will happen and exactly how it will affect your characters.

Major events that require foreshadowing

  • unusual talents – must be seen used at least once before
  • major plot developments / plot twists
  • the finale (in the opening scene)


After-shadowing completes or recalls something that was shown earlier. Foreshadowing provides the setup, after-shadowing brings it home.

Event: snakes on the path.
After-shadow -> the train hisses