M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Foreshadowing Your Action

Do you foreshadow what going to happen in your story?  Like, drop tidbits of information in the early chapters that are important to your finale?   Or, does a character wander aimlessly through your narrative ... until suddenly s/he does something that twists the plot the way you want it to go.  The latter is harder to accomplish in a multiple viewpoint story, but still can be done when none of the important characters clues into the motivations of the stealth-character.

The Read ...
Tamora Pierce is a past master of tying up the loose ends and still leaving a hook for the next installment.  My favorite example in Beka Cooper, Bloodhound was a crippled, nasty-tempered pigeon by the name of Slapper.  To understand what I'm saying, you should know that Beka is a young adult set in a medieval fantasy world of Tortall where magic works.   While Beka has magical talents (speaking with the dead who ride pigeons to the Death God and hearing scraps of dialog caught in dust-devils, aka spinners,) --  the stories read like police procedurals.

Slapper appears as part of a greedy flock of pigeons that Beka feeds in the beginning of the day [and other times] -- while writing in the journal that becomes the book.  After the beginning character intros and plot hints are set in the first third (+/-), Slapper appears on the ship taking Beka and her partner to the "scene of the crime".  He annoys Beka regularly by demanding hand-outs 

About 2/3s the way through, one of the minor villains is killed by the super villain's henchmen  and ends up riding Slapper because he had "unfinished" business.  The finale is well-motivated, by a henchman killing Slapper who attacks three of them trying to escape capture.  Beka ignores her orders to stay out of the way to wreck vengeance for Slapper's death.  The problem?  One of the people she chases is the super-villain whom she was ordered to leave alone.

Just in case you didn't notice, I'll repeat.  The book ends like all great young adult books where the fledgling accomplishes what the adults can't do -- find the villain.  Beka's adult partner did link up with her in the end and helped save her bacon.  The scene also resolved the first problem introduced at the beginning of the book.  Beka's bad luck in keeping a partner.

The book would be good study in how to construct a book.

Web Notes ...
Perhaps you've seen agent Nathan Bransford's article in the Huffington Post about the "rejection letter of the future".  He thinks that agents will only respond to queries for stories they want to see more of.  I expected more of an explosion even though I agree with him.   Responding to 500+ queries a week must get tedious at best even if the agent considers themselves a miner.  I'm all for it ... if the agents also gives an automatic response when they receive the query ... and a definite time for a positive response.  No response = rejected.

Don't worry too much, though.  As there are agents who still insist on paper queries, some agents will continue to send "written" rejections. 

Progress (?) ...
By Tuesday, I had over 1,000 words of Voices down.  Then, I dinked.  Adding a bit here and a bit there and setting up for the coming flood.  [To soothe my feelings, I call this adding "texture".]  The great scene with the La Llorona-take-off ghost will be truncated from what I first imagined it.  No great explanations of why she's still hanging around the mortal plane.  She'll just scare the ***** out of Kaffy Anne, who'll run away and wish she never sees a ghost again.  

Then, there's the added scene of KA being seen with a classmate coming up from the creek together by the busybody who's trying to get social services to take the kids.  --  All in one chapter, the part that hasn't been written yet.  Just notes sitting there festering.

Trivia ...
Did the Friday run-around, and took the time to look at the book racks since the to-read pile is getting a little short.  I took the time to see what type of books were popular.  My quick guesstimate says "Vampires rule the racks."

And, Skin Trade, the newest (?) Anita Blake, is out in paperback and in my hot little hands.  It's not the newest/last in the series.  There are two more in the "cheapskates pipeline."  Which comments makes me wonder:  Do you dream of your novels coming out in hardcover first?


Margo Berendsen said...

I've read one Pierce novel and loved it, been tempted to get into the Tortall world but haven't gotten to it yet. My TBR pile is HUGE and I have to be so careful otherwise I don't get any WRITING done! Just curious, have ventured into Shannon Hale YA fantasy at all? I was tempted, but my library had NOTHING. Also on the TBR list is Rampant, a YA about girls trained to hunt down killer unicorns. You can guess why that sounds interesting.

I did read that article by Bransford... and his followup. Very interesting stuff.

E.J. Wesley said...

I think it's hard to truly foreshadow when drafting for me, because I'm not much for hardcore outlining. When I start a story, I typically know the starting event and the how it's going to end (basically). Then I try to stay a couple of chapters ahead of where I'm at.

That being said, I'm finding it's easier to view things from a distance when editing. I can sprinkle clues around when I re-write much more easily. I've gotten lucky in a couple of places and had some unintended foreshadowing, but for the most part I have to do it with some thought.

Nice post, Kay

Kay said...

EJ ... I've tried to outline and can't. Usually, I foreshadow when I edit my print copy of my draft. But, I've been working on Voices for so long (maybe four years) that a lot of it is written in my head.

Margo ... My to-read pile just got higher with an infusion from the NYC kids. They're cleaning house. I can't imagine two people -- with a book buying habit -- living in 700 sq. ft.