Foreshadowing or guessing ahead is a literary device by which an author hints what is to come. Foreshadowing is a dramatic device in which an important plot-point is mentioned early in the story and will return in a more significant way. It is used to avoid disappointment. It is also sometimes used to arouse the reader.
A hint that is designed to mislead the audience is referred to as a red herring. A similar device is the flashforward (also known as prolepsis). However, foreshadowing only hints at a possible outcome within the confinement of a narrative. A flashforward is a scene that takes the narrative forward in time from the current point of the story in literature, film, television, and other media. Foreshadowing is sometimes employed through characters explicitly predicting the future.
By analogy to foreshadowing, the literary critic Gary Morson described its opposite, sideshadowing. Found notably in the epic novels of Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, it is the practice of including scenes that turn out to have no relevance to the plot. This, according to Morson, increases the verisimilitude of the fiction because the audience knows that in real life, unlike in novels, most events are in fact inconsequential. This "sense of structurelessness" invites the audience to "interpret and question the events that actually do come to pass".
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- Author's Craft - "Narrative Elements - Foreshadowing" Retrieved 2013-07-18
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- flash-forward - definition of flash-forward by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia
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