Dangling the Carrot

As a reader, I am enthralled when a writer dangles a little bit of a character’s future on the page. It bolsters me on to read more so that I can find out how or why that thing is going to happen to the character. For some writers, it’s usually dropping a single, short sentence foreshadowing a big event. For other writers, it’s dangling the promise of a character’s grisly death. But it’s couched so artfully in an innocent narrative, that you, the reader, don’t see it coming. Once you’ve read that Billy is going to eventually fall down that well in the backyard and die of starvation or Amanda the jogger is going to forget her cell phone on just the wrong day… you can’t unread it and you have to know what’s going to happen. 

Both my inner reader and writer love this blunt foreshadowing (if I can call it that). I aspire to write something even half as enticing, especially if it goads the reader into devouring more of the story.

However, in practice as the writer, I have a hard time divulging such major story arc information to the reader so early on. I want to clutch the main events of the story close to my breast, doling them out carefully at the “correct” time. In all honesty, I sometimes like that I have a secret from the reader… but as a reader, I don’t like it when the author keeps a secret. It’s a much better read when I can share a secret with the writer.

Does anyone else have this problem?


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