Make Foreshadowing Part of Your Arsenal When Writing a Novel

There are many techniques you can use to help you to write a novel, but when you are just starting off they can appear confusing and difficult. Foreshadowing is a very useful technique and you will find it in many novels. You can look back at novels you have read to see how it was used or see our examples below.

Foreshadowing When Writing a Novel

How to Write a Novel
How to Write a Novel

Foreshadowingis a way of giving readers information that doesn’t seem relevant or significant at the time that is going to become really vital later on. It is a way of planting information in the reader’s mind so that they can recall it later, thereby giving them a better understanding, giving the earlier scene more relevance. In a detective novel, maybe the character will hear or see something that seems irrelevant at the time, but then later becomes really important to them working out who the murderer was.

An example to illustrate this point would be of a wife finding a receipt in her husband’s wallet or a payment on a bank statement and thinking she knows what she’s getting for Christmas. Only come Christmas Day she discovers, in front of her parents or close family member, perhaps of an older generation, that the scarf or underwear he has bought isn’t for her. It’s for himself and he is cross-dressing – and has been doing so for a good many years!

☺Bet you thought we were going to say it was for another woman!

You can also set the scene to have more impact later. For example, an overworked husband asks his overspending, lazy wife to book him a doctor’s appointment, but she forgets because she is spending the day at the spa with her friends. A couple of chapters later, when he’s rushed into hospital with a suspected heart attack, the reader can imagine how guilty she is feeling as he is wheeled down the corridor on a trolley. Or does she?

Examples When Writing a Novel

In the novel 1984by George Orwell, a great example of foreshadowingoccurs where Winston thinks that:

[i]n the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.

Before the end of his rehabilitation with O’Brien, Winston accepts this as truth. In other words, eventually this demonstrates that people will believe anything they tell them and in the end Winston does.

J. K. Rowling used foreshadowingthroughout the Harry Potter series. In my personal opinion, it demonstrated skill as the significance of some things was not discovered until later books in the series.

Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir, a young boy from Kabul, who befriends Hassan, his father’s servant’s son. It is set against a backdrop of the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet invasion, the mass exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the USA, and the rise of the Taliban regime. Amir recalls an event that happened twenty-six years before, when he was still a boy, and says that that made him who he is. Amir feels immense guilt over failing to stop the rape of his servant and best friend Hassan. It isn’t until twenty-six years later that he redeems himself by rescuing Hassan’s son from the same man. I don’t want to spoil the plot for you, but there is an excellent example of foreshadowing involving a sling shot.

We hope our examples of great foreshadowing have inspired you to use this technique as part of your writing arsenal to help you write a great novel. For more useful writing techniques that you can employ when writing your novel, read My Guide: How to Write a Novel.

Decide on a Genre to Write a Novel

Deciding on a Genre

How to Write a Novel - Deciding on a Genre
How to Write a Novel – Deciding on a Genre

If you are planning to write a novel at somepoint you will have to decide what genre you are going to write in; for example, science fiction, fantasy, romance, military, historical, humour, etc. Use this opportunity to look at how many of them can be mixed. For instance, Red Dwarfis a comical sci-fi. The selection of books on the shelves or on the Internet is amazing, from the comic to the serious, from the historic to the contemporary and from the realistic to the fantastical. Some are heart-warming, others disturbing, some enchanting, others gritty with a twist. Genres include:

adventure                               crime

children/young adult         erotica

family sagas                           fantasy

historical                                 horror

humour                                    military

romance                                  science fiction

spy stories                              thrillers

war stories                             westerns

chick lit (modern romantic comedy)

It is likely that your writing will be stronger if you choose to write a novel in the genre you read most widely, or if you have a personal experience or interest in a subject. If you enjoy thrillers with a twist or a historical romance, you will be more familiar with your topic and so will have agood idea what works. If you enjoy spiritual, chilling horrors or ghost stories then you will be able to draw from material you have read and instinctively know what is guaranteed to scare readers out of their wits. Furthermore, selecting from a known genre will attract publishers, as they are more likely to be able to visualise how the book will be marketed.

Whilst it is advisable to obey the conventions within these genres, you should aim to provide something new, unusual and exciting, that makes your reader want to turn the pages. There are many different types of novel, each with a variety of genres, settings and styles, all aimed at different audiences. For example, a romance novel that is written for the Mills and Boon audience is very different to that of a modern chick lit, but essentially they both tend to be romance novels.

Novels can be broken down into two types:

  1. Action, plot-based stories. An example of this would be The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. A mystery-detective novel, it follows two people as they investigate a murder in Paris’ Louvre Museum and discover a conflict over the prospect of Jesus having been married to Mary Magdalene. The murder victim is found, naked, with a cryptic message written beside his body and a pentacle drawn on his chest in his own blood.

Despite being a worldwide bestseller that sold millions of copies, having been translated into forty-four languages, the book has been extensively denounced as an attack on the Roman Catholic Church. It has also been criticised for its historical and scientific inaccuracies. Nevertheless, it was still a bestseller and a great read.

The emphasis here is on pace and twists and turns, which thrillers can offer. Often, scenes will change quickly as the reader is taken from one drama to another, without the confines of social chit-chat.

  1. Reflective, character-based stories. An example would be The Pickwick Papers – the first novel by Charles Dickens. Set in the late 1820s, this novel follows Samuel Pickwick and his fellow travellers as they tour southern England by coach. Mr Pickwick is an observer of people and this was originally a serial. Another example would be Jennifer Donnelly’s trilogy, with its endearing characters in The Tea Roseseries. The author Barbara Taylor Bradford wrote: ‘There’s a hint of mystery, lots of interesting characters and locales such as India, Africa and California, with turn-of-the-century London at the centre of an engaging book. Recommended’.

In this second category, personalities are interacting with one another, focusing on relationships and how they are formed, nurtured and developed. Here, the pace is slower, so there is time to absorb one’s surroundings and thoughts through the use of both narrative and lengthy dialogue, with plenty of descriptive passages.

Whatever genre you choose to write a novel in, write with passion and conviction. Enjoy your writing and if you would like to read more on how to craft your novel, read My Guide: How to Write a Novel.☺

Already written a book? Need some assistance with proofreading or editing? Contact us at The Editing House.

Book Sales – Why It’s So Important

Why Authors Don’t Market Their Books

Book Sales & Marketing
Book Sales & Marketing

Book Sales the Right Way: Thousands of authors write a book, get it published and then allow it to fade away into obscurity. Why, after all the effort they have put into writing it, would they allow their book to go unread, other than by a handful of people? Why does book marketing take a back seat?

You could be forgiven for thinking that they don’t desire fame fortune and success – but you would be wrong. The reason they don’t market their book effectively is simple. It is because many people find book marketing and achieving book sales a scary prospect and many excuses are given for not actually getting started – arguments for this being:

  • I haven’t got the time.
  • I don’t know where to start.
  • It will probably be too expensive.
  • I don’t like technology and it will be too difficult.
  • I believe there are too many books and nobody will find mine, so there’s no point.

This is a negative attitude and will definitely hinder you in getting your work out there. With book sales, as Henry Ford famously said: ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right’.

It is common to begin with great gusto and enthusiasm, throwing ourselves in, getting caught up in the excitement, but most of us will run into problems at some point, some even abandoning marketing our book altogether to increase book sales. The important thing to remember is stumbling blocks are commonplace. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Try to outsource things. Remove blockages to your success. Analyse what is holding you back and what you are finding you haven’t got time to do.

Think of it as an equation:

Time spent direct selling plus time spent indirect selling equals copies sold.

Before you begin marketing your book and generating book sales, you need to develop a publicist’s mindset. It isnot enough to say you want to make money or sell your book. Everyone wants those things, but not everyone can achieve those goals – it takes a certain mindset.

Thankfully, it does not mean you need to be a workaholic, engage in questionable marketing tactics or become a pushy, overbearing salesperson who people run away from to avoid.

Book Sales & Marketing Secrets

The secret behind adopting a successful marketing mindset is to follow the PIP formula: Perseverance, Integrity and Planning:


Positive perseverance is crucial in book marketing. Accept nowthat you are going to have down times. Something will go wrong at some point and you need to be able to move on from it or find a way round the problem.

Successful people in all walks of life display two characteristics: willpower and unshakeable persistence. More than 2,000 years ago Confucius said, ‘Our greatest glory is not in never failing but in rising every time we fall.’ How much you are prepared to persevere will depend greatly on how much you want the end result. One of the crucial factors in getting to the result you want is to focus on your end goal rather than the steps you would have to do to get there.


We cannot overstress the importance of believing in your book. The dictionary definition of ‘integrity’ is ‘the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles’. If you do not believe it will provide adequate information or help people overcome the problems it claims to, how can you possibly sell your book with confidence? If you genuinely believe that your book is a great product – and that it does what it says on the tin, so to speak – why would you have any worries about selling it?

Many authors hate the idea of selling and the very thought of it makes them cringe. But let me ask you a simple question: if you had a friend who was suffering from a terrible headache or hay fever and you knew of something you truly believed would help them, would you feel bad recommending it? If you believe in your book, then surely telling people who need the information it supplies is being kind and helpful …


Develop your marketing plan and test which methods best suit your personality and lifestyle. You can then monitor results so you can make an informed choice as to which marketing strategies work best for you.

It is pointless planning to be on ten different social media platforms four hours a day, if you are working full time, managing a family or have other commitments. Making sensible plans focused on your end goal, measuring success along the way, will help ensure you are on the right track; this will be covered in more detail in later blogs.

Want to learn more about how to market you book/novel? Get Market and Sell Books – part of the My Guide series of self-help books, available on

If you need help with proofreading and editing your book, please contact us at The Editing House for more information.

Finding an Initial Idea to Write a Novel

Finding an Initial Idea to Write a Novel

Recently, I was surprised when someone told me they would love to write a novel, but did not think they would be able to come up with a good enough idea. I hate to think of talent being halted before it even gets going and it was this that inspired me to write this blog. Continue reading “Finding an Initial Idea to Write a Novel”

Effective Book Marketing

Book Marketing

Why Your Novel Is Not Selling

If your book is not selling, the chances are you have made a common mistake and are not marketing it correctly. Book marketing is one of the first things you can consider even before you have written your book, in order to start building an author platform.

A book marketer’s mindset is very different to that of a writer’s and it requires different skills. Fortunately, technology these days means you can utilise your writing skills to market your book. Whilst it would be great if you could let others take care of the book marketing for you and let the sales come pouring in, in reality it doesn’t happen that way. Continue reading “Effective Book Marketing”

Establishing Your Credibility as a Self-Help Specialist

Establishing Your Credibility as a Self-Help Specialist

Write a Self-Help Book
How to Write a Self-Help Book Fast!

Readers and publishers want to know that the author of a self-help book is an authority on the subject. For this reason it is best to write about topics you have qualifications for or unique experience in. Continue reading “Establishing Your Credibility as a Self-Help Specialist”

Avoiding Split Infinitives in Your Writing

Split Infinitives

Part of the Award-Winning My Guide Series of Self-Help Books

When writing a book you should avoid inserting split infinitives as this is one of the keys to great writing.

And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before – and thus was the Empire forged.

Douglas Adams

Splitting an infinitive means inserting a word or phrase between the word to and the verb. A split infinitive is when the word to is separated from the infinitive by an adverb. The most famous example we can use, which sounds clumsy, is from Star Trek: Continue reading “Avoiding Split Infinitives in Your Writing”

Read Widely When Writing a Novel

The Importance of Reading Widely When Writing a Novel

Reading widely can improve your writing. If you are wondering how to write a novel and are struggling even to contemplate where to begin, start by reading other books. That may sound strange, but what we are suggesting is reading not just to enjoy the story, but also to study the writing style. Continue reading “Read Widely When Writing a Novel”

Self-Help Topics That Sell Books

Self-Help Topics That Sell Books

If you are unsure what to write about, it is worth considering that most bestselling books cover a few major self-help topics:

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  • business
  • personal finance
  • health (including weight loss)
  • practical psychology
  • personal improvement
  • relationships

The reasons for this are quite simple – the three biggest desires most people have are: Continue reading “Self-Help Topics That Sell Books”

Adverbs Unravelled

Adverbs Unravelled

Following on from a previous post on verbs, an adverb is a word or phrase that modifies the meaning of an adjective, verb or other adverb, expressing manner (swiftly, easily, gently), place (everywhere, here, there), time (daily, never, now, early, late) or degree (farthest, least, always, very, most, really). An adverb tells us when, where, how, in what manner or to what extent a certain action is performed, often identified by the suffix –ly, although not always: Continue reading “Adverbs Unravelled”