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Referencing future events

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Svrtnsse, Jan 14, 2015.

  1. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I've recently started rewriting and revising my first draft. As I'm doing so I'm finding lots of opportunities to reference incidents or events that I know will be explained later on in the story, but which at the time have no importance or impact on the story at all.

    Example:
    At one point in an early chapter a supporting character mentions some kids being sent off to do community service as punishment for some prank they pulled.
    Later on, my MC will be helping out with cleaning up the mess caused by that prank and will learn more about the details of what happened and who was involved etc.

    Opportunities like this are popping up like flies on dung at the moment and it's really tempting to act on them.
    The benefit I see is that it'll add some depth to the world and to the story and it might make the reader feel clever if they make the connection.
    The drawback I see is that I might be overloading the reader with information that isn't, or doesn't seem, relevant at the time.

    What's your take on this? Is it something you've dealt with or have experience with and how do you feel about it?
     
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I'm pretty sure that's just plain old foreshadowing. Very common, not really a problem.
     
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  3. rune_dominic

    rune_dominic New Member

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    I think these 'connections' make your world deeper, more detailed. I think you should use them.
     
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  4. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    Thanks for the comments guys. I guess I was probably just overthinking it a bit. :)
     
  5. cupiscent

    cupiscent Sage

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    When I'm planning, I call this stuff "planting". Say, for instance, in the finale of one storyline, the bad guys are going to be hiding up the belltower, where the final fight will be. So I make sure I introduce the belltower, and the concept of this being a hide-out place, earlier in the novel. The more of this you have scattered casually across the story, the tighter the whole thing will seem for a reader. It's like Chekov's gun, but hopefully less overt. :)
     
  6. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    I definitely exploit this when I'm writing something that's been planned out (or written before). If you're worried, the only ways this could backfire is a) you hint at something heavy-handedly and then take forever to get to it, in which case people might be left wondering wtf that stuff in Chapter 2 was about, or b) you hint about absolutely everything and take the suspense out of the story. You're probably not doing either of these things, so foreshadow away! It's an essential way of setting up the world so that plot points don't happen out of the blue.
     
  7. AndrewMelvin

    AndrewMelvin Scribe

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  8. Terry Greer

    Terry Greer Sage

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    It's good to do.

    One of my favorite all time films is Back to the future.
    If you watch the opening scenes of that its choc full of planting items for the future reveal (or just joke).

    The Radioactive case under Doc brown's Bed - foreshadowing the plutonium and terrorists.
    Biff as an adult and his mannerisms and how he nteracts with Marty's dad.
    Marty admiring the 4x4 that he would want in his dreams.
    The lady with the flyer's tto save the clock tower with all the info needed for the lighting strike - kept only because Marty writes Jennifer's number on the back.
    Joey's parole cake - and his parole cancelled - only so Marty can quip later to a 2 year old in a play pen - 'better get used to these bars kid'
    The twin pines mall sign and Doc Brown talking about Peabody estates who owned the land and wanted to breed pine trees - only minutes later for Marty to go back in time to Peabody''s estate and flatten one of two pine trees (again so on his return it can now be called the Lone Pine mall).

    The list is endless (I thought I'd better stop) and BTTF has one of the best more taught scripts for this type of referential reveal that I can think of.

    It's all foreshadowing - and its fun for the reader/watcher to piece together themselves as the story progresses.
     
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  9. spectre

    spectre Sage

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    It depends on your "target" audience I think, and critics will uptake their own opinions on your writing style in that regard among the content of your book. I had similar stylistic issues with my writing that entangled itself in using English elements to foreign languages or even certain types of wordplay. While the style may excite a reader in one respect, it may not be relevant to the book and then people begin to wonder if you're really succeeding in staying on topic. Foreshadowing is a tool to use in your literature to unfold the story. Your example doesn't seem to create a timeline even if it is contained within a paragraph, so I'm hard pressed to say I understood it in relation to your question. Stories progress and you'll find a clever way to portray your backdrop, whether it be through clever alliteration or other eloquence but my advice is that if information isn't relative to the hear and now and setting up your scene and your story, building a character or otherwise then forego it. Use your epilogue and prologue to provide spoiler information or setup information for your current volume.
     
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