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Flashback and Foreshadowing Study Guide

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Updated on Sep 29, 2011

Flashback and Foreshadowing

In this lesson, you'll find that sometimes authors want you to know what happened before … or what's going to happen later!

FLASHBACKS INTERRUPT WHAT'S going on in a story to tell about something that happened in the past. Authors use words like "He remembered when … " or "She thought about that time last year when …" Authors sometimes signal when the flashback is over by using words like Now or Today. A flashback gives readers a deeper understanding of a character's personality.

      Example 1

      "You're getting it. Good girl!" Anya cheered as she ran beside her little sister. Anya smiled, remembering when her dad had taught her to ride a bike. She could still see him running beside her, even when he didn't need to anymore! He'd always been so protective. But now, he was gone and she alone had to take care of the family. "I still need you, Dad," she whispered.

Flashbacks can give you information about a character to help you figure out his or her motives, or reasons, for doing things. This example would help you understand why Anya might turn down a chance to travel with a band, even though that was her dream.

Foreshadowing gives readers clues about what might happen later in a story. Authors use foreshadowing to build suspense, tempt readers to predict what might happen, and persuade them to read on to find out if they were right. Think about it. Even as a little kid, no one had to tell you that when Mrs. Rabbit told Peter, "Don't go into Mr. MacGregor's garden," he'd go – and get into trouble! The author's words foreshadowed danger.

      Example 2

      I looked at the speedometer… Paul was driving even faster. "Please slow down," I said. "We're coming to a really bad curve in the road!" But he didn't slow down and the snow was drifting higher and higher. I could hardly see the road!

Foreshadowing also "sets up" future events so you're prepared for them and they make sense. You don't know why the author mentions snowdrifts until later in the story, when the car hits a snowdrift that stops the vehicle from going over a cliff!

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Flashback and Foreshadowing Practice Exercises

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