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Reshadowing or Foreshadowing

Updated: Apr 30

A Solution For Pantsers

Foreshadowing is a tactic writers use to drop subtle hints of what’s to come in their story. It’s a method that works well, especially in thrillers, to help build tension and anticipation.

Foreshadowing is most often found toward the beginning of the book. It sets the tone for the story. Authors use location, symbolism, marked changes in weather or attitude, phrasing “that’s not good”, or settings to weave in their foreshadowing. Many authors, specifically thriller authors, find foreshadowing to be a useful tool in creating a deeply layered tale.

A woman thinking at her laptop.

Foreshadowing can even be used in titles such as the Sierra Kay title: Sweet Whispers of the Devil. We all know nothing good can come from listening to that whispering voice. This is foreshadowing. We know there is going to be a nefarious character, what we don’t know is how the main character will handle it and or if she will be triumphant. We hope she is, and the story takes us on the ride to find out. The title pulls us in, knowing there is trouble ahead.

How to foreshadow:

  1. Drop a breadcrumb.

  2. Make it subtle.

  3. Tie it all together.

There’s no doubt that foreshadowing is a great tool for authors.

Plotters use foreshadowing as they outline and write the beginning of their stories.

Foreshadowing helps a writer direct the plot from Point A to Point Z.

But what if you aren’t a plotter? What if you’re a pantser who doesn’t yet know where the story is going? What if you are letting the story unfold as you write, with no climax or definitive end in sight?

Can you still use foreshadowing?


Psychological thriller author and unapologetic pantser, Sierra Kay, does just this with a technique called Reshadowing.

Reshadowing is a method in which authors - particularly pantsers - work in foreshadowing aspects later when their story is written.

Kay, a master of fairy-tale retellings, says, “I go back and drop in bread crumbs and nuggets afterward. I build it in so that the ending I’ve written makes sense.”

Envision a painting if you will. If the artist was a pantser she would paint the whole painting first, not knowing exactly what the whole picture will look like. Once the painting is complete, she can turn it into an intricate puzzle, by backtracking and strategically leaving planting seeds, leaving bread crumbs and cutting the pieces to suit the big picture.

“You have to know your story well so you know where to put your foreshadowing,” Kay said.

Kay not only reshadows most of her stories, but she encourages any pantser unsure of where to start to try this method as well.

Your Sierra Kay Takeaways

  1. What is Foreshadowing? Foreshadowing is when an author leaves hints about the developing plot.

  2. Who is it for? Foreshadowing isn’t limited to plotters. Pantsers can foreshadow using other methods if they aren’t ready to leave the bread crumbs at the beginning of their writing process.

  3. What is Reshadowing? Reshadowing is a foreshadowing method for pantsers. It involves writing the big picture story and then weaving in foreshadowing aspects after the fact.

  4. Should Pantsers capitulate? Certainly not. Pantsers make their own rules and with reshadowing they can have their cake and eat it too.

  5. Why use Reshadowing? Freedom. Not knowing certain aspects of a story can lead to writer’s block or analysis paralysis. With reshadowing, pantsers have the freedom to thicken their plot after the dish is made.

What Sierra Kay Takeaway are you ready to implement?

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Follow Sierra Kay down the modern fairy tale rabbit hole by visiting her book library here.

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