Guest Post: Foreshadowing for Pantsers


Happy Monday, guys and gals! I’m off again doing things for Alabama Rain, working, and actually meeting up with a friend for a slice of strawberry pie—something so important, it must be planned ahead. Never fear, my dear, as I’ve lined up another awesome author to guest post for you today.

Are you a plotter? A pantser? A plottser…or is it plantser? Who the heck knows? If you lean toward pantser and you’re worried about not having enough foreshadowing…or if you’re a plotter and can’t fathom how the other folks do it, then keep reading because RR is laying it out for you.

Without further adieu:

Foreshadowing as a Pantser

About a month ago, a question was posed: “How does one foreshadow as a pantser?” I think it is a valid question as it seems obvious when you are a plotter that a foreshadowed event is planned well in advance. As a pantser, however; you are moving forward with little to no map to guide you except the ideas blazing in your head.

It’s actually not as difficult or impossible as it may seem to those who rely on their planning. In fact, foreshadowing as a pantser is a very natural occurrence that happens organically. Here are the two ways that foreshadowing happens for me.

The Ah HA! Moment

This is the first and most likely way a foreshadowing event will occur. It is especially effective if you continually examine your character’s motivations and plot points by asking “Why?”

“Why did he say that?”

“Why did that happen?”

Sometimes a character’s motivation or plot points will have a lot of questions surrounding them. It may not be immediately clear what they could be used for and many might think, “I might have to cut or change all of this later.”

And then, one day, you’ll be writing and the Ah Ha! Moment will happen.

It could be something simple or it could be something complex. A character that was quiet and observant early in the story is behaving that way because they observing things for a reason. A character that was rude to another later reveals that the other character is actually a past acquaintance that is tied to the antagonist.

I once had an Ah Ha! Moment that explained the entire motivation of an antagonist in the first book but it wasn’t revealed until the second book.

“This must cause a lot of editing,” a plotter may say.

Sometimes, yes. A lot of times, no, it does not. Ah Ha! Moments have a very distinct anatomy in that they aline themselves perfectly to what has already occured in the story and require little to no editing. It’s like putting together a puzzle without looking at the picture on the box, and you suddenly find that piece that makes a big part of the picture clear.

They also have the ability to cause a writer to cackle in glee as the puzzle pieces fit together.

The Map in Reverse

As I stated before, plotters create a map for themselves by working on outlines and world building without touching the story. I imagine someone looking at the road map and then writing an itinerary for their journey.

Pantsers are more like the exploring cartographer drawing a map as they go. Foreshadowing comes down to remembering where your characters have already been so that you can walk yourself back in that direction when key events happen. It sounds terrifying to those who like to have a plan, but there is one simple truth to a pansters rough draft:

It is the outline.

Once the map is drawn, it is easily to trace backwards and find holes that may have formed, remove unnecessary stopping points along the way, and finetune the journey of the plot.

While it is easy to think “that must mean a lot of editing,” in the end it should not require more editing than a plotted story. In fact, both stories, no matter how well planned, should be deeply scrutinized for content once the first draft is done. What looks good in the initial map is not necessarily going to make for good storytelling once it’s written.

There are times in tracing back through editing that new foreshadowing events can come to light. “This would make more sense if it was connected to what happened later,” one might discover. In this manner, the bumps can be smoothed and the final pieces of the puzzle put together.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how you get there so long as the end result is a well told, enjoyable story for others to read. While a pure plotter might think a pantser’s route is terrifying, and a pantser might find plotting to be the death of the their story, both have their tricks and tips that result in beautiful books.

Both wait patiently for the readers to stumble upon the foreshadowed events tp cry out at their genius and live off of those precious reactions.

Thanks for reading!

Thank you, RR! ♥♥♥ I especially loved the pantser/cartographer analogy. I think that’s pretty freaking spot on.

If you’d like to see more from RR (and I suggest you do) you can follow her on Twitter. And please be sure to check out her books on Amazon!

I’ll see you all soon—xoxo



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