To foreshadow, you need to be extra careful; some screenwriters do it the right way while others do the opposite, but in this post, I’ll be showing you how to do it the right way.
Have you ever watched a movie and called the screenwriter an intelligent writer? At the end of a movie, have you ever said “Oh! I see”? Have you ever watched a movie and asked yourself how the screenwriter would escape; the screenwriter escapes and you wonder how the screenwriter did it?
Screenwriters are GODS to their characters, but not to the audience/reader. For a screenwriter to be a god over the audience, he/she has to hold a magic wand which happens to be a technique called Foreshadowing.
The audiences are very smart people so as a screenwriter, don’t ever think you can outsmart them by just popping something out of nowhere and that’s the end of your story.
If you try that, your audience/reader will never forgive you, and because of what you’ve done, they might never want to watch your movie or read your screenplay again.
What is Foreshadow?
Let’s get a clear meaning of the word by looking into the dictionary.
According to Oxford Languages:
Foreshadow: be a warning or indication of (a future event).
According to Wiktionary:
Foreshadow: To presage, or suggest something in advance.
According to Wikipedia:
Foreshadow: Foreshadowing is a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story.
Let’s combine the definitions above so that we’ll take what we want as screenwriters.
Foreshadow: The hint a screenwriter gives for a future event.
For any screenwriting technique to be called foreshadowing, there must first be a hint before the future event occurs in a later scene.
To make you understand foreshadowing, let’s see an example.
Movie Title: Betty’s Love Triangle
Written by: Tomi Adesina
After Betty’s heartbreak with a man she has been dating for six years, she decides to throw faithfulness to a man out of the window.
Betty starts dating Femi, a software guy who has been asking her out for a while, and James, a cab driver and a small chops company owner.
After a while of dating Femi, Betty takes her picture to Femi’s house and drops it on his TV stand in the living room, and when Femi asks why she dropped her picture there, she said: “I’m marking my territory”.
Femi knows that Betty loves eating a particular brand of small chops, so one day, Femi orders the small chops and James brings the small chops to his house.
Note: This small chops order happened without Betty’s knowledge.
Femi invites James to sit so that they can have more discussions about food. James is about to sit on a couch as he sees Betty’s picture in the living room on the TV stand.
James asks Femi if Betty is his sister, but Femi replies “No, she’s not my sister, that’s my wife”.
Read: How To Write A Logline.
Go and watch the movie on IROKO TV APP let me continue with my post.
- What’s the hint in the story? The Picture.
- Did James come to the house immediately after Betty planted the hint? No, he came in a later scene.
- Did you notice how Betty gave the audience something else to think about while she was planting the hint? “I’m just marking my territory”.
That hint (picture) made both of them (Femi and James) know they are dating the same girl. In the story above, I want to believe the audience set a trap for Tomi Adesina.
Audience: Let’s see how she’ll make a software guy and small chops guy know that they are dating the same girl.
Tomi Adesina: Tomi looks around, but doesn’t see a way out; she remembers that to be a god over your audience, you need a magic wand, so she uses her wand.
When all roads seem to go nowhere as a screenwriter in your story, never forget to use your magic wand.
The foreshadowing technique if used properly would make your audience happy, but you shouldn’t try to use it the wrong way because if you do; let’s forget that part.
- Don’t force foreshadowing into your story, let it come organically.
- When you want to foreshadow, find a way to make the audience think of something else while you plant the hint. Betty made the audience think she’s a jealous lover as she planted the hint.
You must understand your story before foreshadowing can work perfectly.