[And other such Death Threats]
Prophecies, Oracles and Tea Leaves
The full on prediction of death tends to be the stuff of fantasy, because lets face it, how often does anything realistic have something like it? My very favorite kind are the prophecies, which by the hearing, cause action, which in turn is what brings it about—had nobody heard, nobody would have acted, and it then would NOT have happened (and nobody would be the wiser, eh?). But whatever seer, teller, or gypsy that passes on the vision, it is a greater power than is actually found among mere mortals (at least none of my friends can do it, though I know a few Tarot readers).
Literature symbolism is something that I always love, but generally need somebody with a Literature degree to point out for me: ohhh, the crows on his front lawn means death is coming to his house! Seriously? What do the crows that congregate across the street from me mean? *shivers * There are a thousand things that happen that somebody would tell you foreshadow death, and I'd bet some portion were even done on purpose by the author *cough*. I'm being facetious, because I've had very clever foreshadowing attributions made on my work when I didn't do it on purpose, and I think it can be tempting to misattribute something that was just a detail—not real foreshadowing. And what about the 999 foreshadowing events that AREN'T there? Is there a point lack of foreshadowing means somebody is safe? (I thought not).
I guess what I'm saying, is while I like this, I probably don't have the background to DO much of it, and it is sort of an effort lost on me anyway.
What I CAN spot, and may even be able to DO is a little more 'run of the mill' foreshadowing. I can ALSO spot when it is NOT there and point at the 'deus ex machina' as poor writing *cough*Twilight*cough*. Coming out of left field, in the case of Myer, quite literally, with something that had no lead in or foreshadowing is just plain sloppy. How might she have handled it better? Whispered ghost stories among friends that oh... INCLUDE the baseball crap? Or about the dueling tribes (or whatever they are) of vampires—a whispered warning that certain perfumes cause all the supernatural creatures to be drawn to the same freaking girl?
A little foreshadowing could have salvaged that story—made what is stupidly INCREDIBLE into something a person can suspend their disbelief on.
So What Does it Mean for Us?
1) Plan ahead and know where you are going—if you want to only know vaguely? Fine. If you want two or three possible endings? Fine. But if you just write linearly, you have to have some idea, or the hints won't be there.
2) Or commit to editing in the hints. ReWriting is going to happen anyway—so just plan on putting in a few scenes that give some clue as to later stuff. That way the reader can be an interactive partner, rather than a passive monkey being led by the nostrils. (hows that image for a Monday morning?)