Foreshadowing can be delicious, as in anticipating a birthday present. Or it can be terrifying, as in anticipating a hurricane. In literature foreshadowing works to indicate or warn the reader that something may happen. It’s never as exact as the date of a birthday, nor as specific as “Hurricane winds exceed 160 mph.”
And — unlike a birthday or a hurricane — the happening that readers anticipate may not happen at all. Not everything is foreshadowing. However, when something is foreshadowing, the reader is usually very, very satisfied: anticipation has been realized.
Probably my favorite foreshadowing in one of my own books is the pitchfork in Sound Proof. I like that so much that I’ve considered carrying a pitchfork with me wherever I go.
That, however, would be cumbersome, and maybe even weird, so I’ve resorted to fewer specific-object foreshadowings in my recent work. And, next to the pitchfork in Sound Proof, my favorite foreshadowings are in The F Words.
Without telling you exactly what the words foreshadow (wouldn’t want to ruin your reading pleasure), I’ll list some of my favorites from The F Words.
page 1 — But as it turns out he has fast reflexes or maybe just knows which direction to move in . . . That’s Cole Renner, the 15-year-old narrator, reacting to the fact that he can’t escape from Mr. Nachman, his English teacher.
page 39 — And that’s when I notice something in my sideways vision.
Tall and straight, like a pillar. That’s Cole noticing Treva Soldat for the first time.
page 55 — “You don’t want to be a cabbage. A coleto is a jacket.” That’s six-year-old Felipe telling six-year-old Cole what cole and coleto mean in Spanish.
page 123 — You need both kinds of muscles, so you’re ready for any situation.” That’s Cole’s Coach, talking to the cross-country team.
page 170 — “. . . in jail you’re punished no matter which end of the fight you’re on.” That’s Della Kazarian, Hank Renner’s defense attorney.
page 192 — “Holidays can be tough. Very tough.” That’s Mr. Nachman.
page 214 — “She organized it. He was merely the chauffeur.” That’s Emerald, describing how members of Cole’s English class ended up at his track meet.
These are just a few of my favorites, but they’re far from being the only examples of foreshadowing in The F Words. Other foreshadowing includes Jared Anderson threatening Cole; ICE’s appearance throughout the novel; Felipe’s mother being worried about his attending the pro-immigrant demonstration.
And more. In fact, there are probably foreshadowings that I don’t even recognize as such, mainly because I wasn’t conscious of writing them as such.
The fact is, I’m almost never aware of consciously writing a foreshadowing in the first draft, and often in the second draft as well. It’s only when I get into the third draft, where I’m starting to tie things together and make connections of all kinds, that I begin to recognize some of the foreshadowing. This is fun for me as a writer, and I hope it’s fun for you as a reader.
The F Words is available wherever books are sold: from the publisher, City of Light Publishing; from IndieBound, the site for independent bookstores; from Barnes & Noble; and from Amazon. To get updates and the latest news on The F Words, subscribe to Barbara Gregorich’s Newsletter.