Sunday, February 27, 2005

Yeah, Roy Peter Clark again

I'm sorry, his writer's tools are just great stuff. No. 45 involves the use of foreshadowing in a news story. He gives some great examples; he also talks about what I guess you'd call "anti-foreshadowing," or "negative foreshadowing" a bad thing: introducing a seemingly random element into a narrative and then never returning. I suspect this is often done under the guise of injecting "color" into a piece, but I can see where it would leave a reader frustrated. In explaining why foreshadowing is good, he offers this about why it can be bad if misused:

"In dramatic literature, this technique is sometimes referred to as Chekov's Gun. In a letter he penned in 1889, Russian playwright Anton Chekov wrote: 'One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.'"

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