Foreshadowing in Your First Pages

This post is a continuation of how to write effective first pages. Today’s subject is especially intriguing—foreshadowing. So what is it? Foreshadowing entices,  hinting at the story you intend to tell.

Below is an excerpt from the first paragraph of my chapter The Man in the Moon, from my memoir Falling Away (note the foreshadowing in bold):

Theresa has her father’s new Lincoln—a white boat of a car with leather seats, an 8-track tape player and windows that open and close with a push of a button. Theresa is the new girl in our junior class. She’s tall with dark curly hair that hangs in a mop to her shoulders. Her nice clothes can’t hide the fact that she doesn’t have a flat stomach or lean legs like all the girls want, but she has a driver’s license, her father’s car and a bottle of orange vodka.

My original opening did not contain the words “boat of a car” and “8-track tape player,” both added after I had researched beginnings. Old vehicles from the 70s are often called “boats” and an 8-track tape player is very specific to the 1970s.  By using these details, I give a clear picture of where we are in time and a more vivid image of the car Theresa was driving. I have taken my opening to another level with the last sentence when I mention the bottle of orange vodka. This is the foreshadowing that creates a sense of danger and propels the story forward.

When writing your opening pages, make sure to foreshadow the story you will tell. Properly executed foreshadowing provides momentum, a force that leads the reader into the next page, and the next, and the next.

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