Flashback & Foreshadowing

References to the past and hints to the future are called flashbacks and foreshadowing.


Flashbacks are used by the writer to refer to past events to give context or provide background information. It connects the present with the past. The flashback can be a memory or dream of a character, but can also be given by the writer as a general reference. From a technical point of view, the flashback can be used to take a break from current events to create suspense.



Foreshadowing is a device used to give clues in a story to create expectations for the reader of what might happen later on in the story. These expectations create suspense and atmosphere to the story. On the other hand, foreshadowing can also give room for red herrings: false clues, to distract readers.



The flash-forward is similar to foreshadowing, except that foreshadowing offers possibility, whether flash-forwards show certainty: flash-forwards are scenes that will happen in the future.



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