Let’s start with a definition: Per Wikipedia “foreshadowing or adumbrating is a literary device in which an author indistinctly suggests certain plot developments that will come later in the story.”
Usually when you think of foreshadowing, you think of a plot device that is used in mystery or suspense, but as more and more authors are writing series books, I am discovering that it is being utilized more in the romance genre.
In the mystery genre foreshadowing is used typically as a precursor to pending doom and build suspense for the great pièce de résistance. I remember racing through the pages of Tom Clancy’s Patriot Games desperate to find out what was going to happen to Jack Ryan’s family.
In the romance genre it can be used for a mystery within the story, however many authors use it to create desire for the next book in the series. It is like a movie trailer broadcasting coming attractions. It can be about a character and a potential relationship or it can be a plot device. But no matter what it is about the author creates a hook for the reader and gives them a reason to buy the next book.
In her recent review of A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare, Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, mentioned something that caught my attention. A certain group of supporting characters who arrive in the heroine’s village, early in the novel, were seen by Sarah as being “a carriage full of sequel-bait…[not] so much individual as they are at times like an assembly of future characters and convenient plot devices.” This jumped out at me, because I have felt this sentiment before, reading various books by various authors.
For me, the carriage full of characters in A Lady by Midnight worked, and I personally did not feel that they were sequel-bait. (Incidentally, in a Goodreads chat to celebrate the book’s release, Dare mentioned that there are only two other planned stories in this series, a novella and a novel, neither of which will be about any of the carriage characters… Although Dare did not rule out the possibility of revisiting one of the characters at a much later date.) But I don’t mean this as a critique of either Sarah or Dare. Rather, this is just a recent example of a phenomenon that I have been experiencing myself – the expectation of sequels. In this case, I happened to read Sarah’s review just after reading Dare’s comment that she did not intend to write books for these new characters, and it got me thinking.
Yeah, I read non-romance. Not much, but I do. That being said, with romance reading and review books, plus grad school coursework, I have to be really choosy with what I read. At the same time, I’m determined to branch out from romance and YA, and I’m going to make it my goal to read at least one non-romance book each month. Since fall is big publishing season, here are three non-romance books that caught my eye, in no particular order:
The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling
Her first book since Harry Potter. There is no way this is not going to be a publishing phenomenon, and canny for her, she’s going into adult contemporary fiction. It looks good though – satire and small town secrets, and all that – and I like the cover.
Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan
Ian McEwan does 1970s espionage and romance. Needless to say, I doubt it’s going to end happily, but I’m really, really looking forward to this one. Features an Oxford mathematician as a heroine, who gets recruited by MI-5 and falls in love with the guys she’s spying on. It’s already out in Canada (although not until November in the States), and the reviews are fantastic.
First, a huge “thank you” to all of you for your enthusiasm about the Special Title Lists, and for your many suggestions about the lists. We’ve tallied all of your suggestions and are pleased to announce that your top four choices amongst the Special Title Lists are now open for additions. The following four lists will be open for suggested additions from now until Sunday evening, September 16, 2012, at midnight:
Marriages of Convenience — Marriages of convenience are marriages that come about because of circumstances. In most romances of this type, neither the hero nor the heroine desires the marriage, but circumstances such as lack of money or child custody make the marriage desirable (last updated February of 2010).
Favorite Funnies – Romances that make us laugh (last updated June of 2009).