Write Stronger Stories by Adding Foreshadowing in Every Scene

Novices tend to write scenes that have no connection or relation to any other scene. That makes every scene feel completely separate and isolated from every other scene so the entire story feels disjointed and unfocused. The way to fix this problem is to always foreshadow future scenes in every scene possible.

In “Pulp Fiction,” an early scene shows two men driving in a car and talking about fast food in Europe and how it’s different than fast food in America. That by itself is funny and interesting, but it foreshadows the next scene where the two hit men enter an apartment to retrieve a briefcase from several young men.

As the hit men interrogate the young men, they talk about the hamburgers the young men are eating for breakfast. So the earlier scene talking about fast food now repeats itself in a different way in the apartment scene, helping create a unified story.

The apartment scene also includes another bit of foreshadowing where the hit men ask the young men if they think their business partner, Marsellus Wallace, looks like a bitch because he doesn’t want to get screwed like a bitch. In a much later scene, that’s exactly what happens to Marsellus Wallace when he’s captured by men who bind and gag him, and then proceed to rape him like a bitch.

By adding foreshadowing in every scene, you create a stronger link between scenes and the story feels more realistic and natural. Without such foreshadowing, events would seem to come out of nowhere and make no sense.

Imagine if the “Pulp Fiction” scene omitted the two hit men talking about fast food in Europe and America. Then the talk about hamburgers in the apartment scene wouldn’t make sense.

Even though the apartment scene foreshadows Marsellus Wallace being screwed like a bitch, it’s easy to forget this detail when that rape scene of Marsellus Wallace occurs much later. However, the existence of the foreshadowing still makes the scenes stronger even if the audience isn’t consciously aware of this connection. Because the writer is aware of this connection, the two separate scenes feel more integrated, especially upon repeat viewings of the entire movie.

So the key is to sprinkle foreshadowing in every scene whenever possible. Watch a great movie and you’ll find foreshadowing used throughout nearly every early scene. Watch a bad movie and you’ll find little to no foreshadowing at all, and you can see how that helps make a bad movie so awful in the first place.

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