Teagan Kearney/G.N. Kearney: Writer: May 2013


Foreshadowing is a literary device where a writer drops hints early on in the story as to what will happen later. Foreshadowing is also known as Chekov’s Gun as he wrote in several letters: ‘If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.’ When clever writers use foreshadowing, it is to build tension and is interwoven seamlessly into the narrative. It’s only upon reflection after the book is finished that the foreshadowing can be discerned.

There are different types of foreshadowing. Flash-forwarding moves the reader forward, down the timeline of the story, giving a clear picture of what is coming such as in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. This of course can be played with and events may not turn out exactly as indicated – think of The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.

Another type of foreshadowing which intentionally misleads is the use of what is termed a Red Herring, where a deliberately laid clue deceives the reader into assuming the wrong conclusion. Hounds of the Baskervilles as well as The Da Vinci Code both use this technique. Crime novels and mysteries are naturally fertile ground for adding an extra layer of intrigue.

Having a character make a prediction is another way to foreshadow events. This method has been used from ancient Greek times (Oedipus) right up to to the present (Dom DeLillo's White Noise).   Making use of signs/omens to forecast events is also a type of foreshadowing. Such signs, such as crows etc., can be quite symbolic.

Generally foreshadowing is figured out when the major events of your story have been planned because these are the ones you want to highlight. You then set about deciding the details of exactly how you are going to introduce foreshadowing. NB: foreshadowing should never give away the ending!

My favourite use of foreshadowing is in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Does anybody else have any favourites?

Writing Update
I can hardly believe it but my novel is with my two beta readers (go beta readers go! And no, I’m not sucking up.). So I’m breathing out while girding my loins (now there’s metaphor for you – must be left over from the Middle Ages where a knight with ungirded loins was in dire peril) for the feedback.

I was taught to give feedback using a method known as the crap sandwich i.e. you say something positive, hit them with the mean stuff, then finish up with another positive. Giving encouragement allows people to take on board what you’re saying with grace; it also softens their defense reflexes allowing the criticism to be heard.

What to do while I wait for feedback is a new question for me. And one I'm enjoying. I've been so absorbed in writing the current book that mulling over which project to move off the back burner next is proving to be a great motivator.

Today’s Haiku:
penguin business men
huddle with heads together –
eat hot paninis

This is from my book Gold Dragon Haiku which is available as an ebook at the Amazon Kindle Store and will be on a free promotion from June 7th - 11th.

Here’s a link for anybody wanting to learn more about foreshadowing:

Join me on my Twitter journey at:

And to all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.


Wow! This morning my finger hit the Send button and I transmitted sixteen of my twenty-one chapters (the others will be gone by Wednesday) down the electronic highway to a very good friend. She is my first beta reader.

The first time I heard the words beta reader I was confused, but in the interests of keeping my social standing intact, I kept my ignorance to myself. I could have checked it out on Google, but by the time I got home I'd completely forgotten ever having heard the phrase.

It was sometime later when, slumped in off mode and watching The Big Bang Theory, I heard Leonard explaining to Penny that scientists' results were checked by someone who had no input to the experiment. That person was called a beta (here my brain completely fails me) thingy/scientist/checker. Well, you get the idea. And I remembered the phrase beta reader. Cogs shifted and all became clear.

At that point in time I had a group of friends and we all wrote short stories. But time has moved on and I now have a novel. However, asking someone to give you feedback on a book – for free – is not something you can just ask anyone to do. I feel lucky in that I have two beta readers although the second one doesn’t yet know his duties will start this week. The ideal number of beta readers seems to vary but if you can find several readers whose opinion you value, consider yourself very fortunate.
The qualities of a beta reader should include knowledge about grammar, punctuation, style and be able to discuss weaknesses in your character and plot development. This is a tall order. I imagine if you’re that good you’ll be getting paid to do it. But a beta reader is indispensable when it comes to reader feedback. Readers know when a story works or not, when a character isn’t coming across as a genuine person and these are vital points for a writer to hear on the journey to publication.

I’ve more or less met my deadline, and I did learn a lot from working at a fast speed this week. Okay, I should have started sooner, and paced myself better, but life is as life is. Looking on the bright side, working this way has given me a better overview.

My inner editor works slowly, takes forever to be satisfied and each reading feeds their pernicketyness. Although, credit given where credit is due, I don’t think there can be a writer in existence whose characters pause, turn and look and much as mine do. Or rather did. All pauses, turnings and most lookings are now past history.

So, I’m not there yet, (although it feels like I am) as I still have a few chapters to finish. After sending these off, I'll take a break. It’s not so much that I want the characters out of my head, I just need  some breathing out time.

I heard the other day about a cloud appreciation society (weather program plus photography interest) which sparked a thought. If there is any justice in this world of writing, there will one day be a beta reader appreciation society.

My genuine thanks go to my own beta readers – you know who you are – and to all of those legions of beta readers who have contributed to the improvement of endless books simply because you love stories.

Today’s Haiku:
white lacy clusters
cover limbs lifted skywards -
elderflowers bloom

My book Gold Dragon Haiku is available as an ebook at the Amazon Kindle Store. Check it out:

If you are researching beta readers, this is a good informative blog:

A lovely blog to read – just for the fun of it – loaded, of course, with gorgeous photos is:

For all story lovers out there, good reading, and for those of you who write, good writing.


Flashbacks are an effective method to use when writing your story. Circling back to a time before the story begins, while the narrative is still moving forward in the dramatic present, helps to create a sense of reality and gives depth to how time is dealt with in a novel.

Flashbacks relieve the momentum of the dramatic present, yet they themselves are usually of a dramatic nature. You wouldn’t include an episode of your protagonist cleaning his teeth when he was ten unless you can relate it to the development of some deep psychosis (mmm...good luck with that one), but the moment he realizes his parents hate each other/he’s adopted etc., is something that can have repercussions. Flashbacks have to be used with care and earn their place in your story. They should contribute something valuable to the plot or to the readers’ understanding of the protagonist and his actions as in Catcher in the Rye where, over the course of the story, we learn the reasons for Holden’s problems. 

Some stories are told in linear fashion with events moving in one direction only, but this can feel relentless without a time shift to relieve the inexorable drive towards the climax. Used judiciously, flashbacks are an effective way to vary the pace and rhythm of events.

Writing Update.

Deadlines. There is nothing like an approaching deadline to kick start the adrenaline as anyone who has ever participated in a Nanowrimo will testify. Last week I was stuck in neutral but this week I’ve shot into fourth gear and am racing towards my deadline at top speed.

Soon my baby will be going to a beta reader. I know and have absolute trust in my beta reader but they will be the first person, other than myself, who will read my novel. Will they love my precious? Will it even make sense to them?  That ol’ devil of doubt is back on my shoulder but I ask myself, do I want this novel to be the best that it could be, and the answer is yes. So although the water looks cold, I’m going to jump in.

Today's resolution: keep my head down and work through the rest of those chapters and I might, just might, meet my deadline!

Oh, yes...and remember life outside of writing – after all I need grist for the mill!

Today’s Haiku:

champak flower scent

lingers heavy on the air -


If you enjoy reading haiku, my book Gold Dragon Haiku is available as an ebook at the Amazon Kindle Store.

The following link has interesting photos showing how various authors plotted their outlines.  

And if you feel like widening your literary horizons – you could do worse than read at least one book from this list.

Join me on my Twitter journey at:


And to all story lovers out there, good reading, and to those of you who write, good writing.

Courage Under Fire

As D-Day approached, I remembered a short story, Courage Under Fire , I'd written some time ago. Although my story takes place during WW...