The narrative technique of ‘foreshadowing’ is used to prepare readers with the knowledge they’ll need to best enjoy plot and character developments in the latter parts of a story.
And so the urge for a writer is to give the reader everything they need, so they’re ready. On the other hand, we might want to hold back, keep the reader curious, keep them turning the page. And so which way to go? Foreshadowing can be a fine line between revealing too much too soon or too little too late.
We believe that the stories which handle foreshadowing best are the ones that give the reader enough information up front to build curiosity around questions of how and why as much as and sometimes more than, questions of who, what or whether.
So, for instance, a murder mystery will still work very well if the reader knows who the killer is early on in the story.
What the reader then wants to know most, is how the killer got away with the deed, not whether they will be caught but how they will be caught and why they did it in the first place.