Foresight in Literature

This page was last updated on the 17th of July, 2015 by Patrick Carpen.

Writers often narrate a story from start to finish in the sequence the events occur. In rare cases, the writer may jump into the future and back. However, most writers allow the reader to experience the events as they unfold. This helps to create suspense, and keeps the reader curious as to how the story would end.

Sometimes, when narrating a story, the writer may give “foresight” or small hints as to what will happen sometime in the future.

For example, in the book “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas“, the author, Jules Verne, writes:

“Just then Commander Farragut was giving orders to cast off the last moorings holding the Abraham Lincoln to its Brooklyn pier. And so if I’d been delayed by a quarter of an hour or even less, the frigate would have gone without me, and I would have missed out on this unearthly, extraordinary, and inconceivable expedition, whose true story might well meet with some skepticism.”

In the above extract, the last phrase “whose true story might well meet with some skepticism”, is a foresight which “sells out” that there will be some dramatic unfolding that will be far more fantastic than what everyone was expecting.

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