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Fiveshadowing

October 15th, 2010 (02:48 pm)

I've started reading David Copperfield. There is way too much foreshadowing. From about halfway through the third chapter (of 64):

There has been a time since when I have wondered whether, if the life before her could have been revealed to me at a glance, and so revealed as that a child could fully comprehend it, and if her preservation could have depended on a motion of my hand, I ought to have held it up to save her. There has been a time since—I do not say it lasted long, but it has been—when I have asked myself the question, would it have been better for little Em'ly to have had the waters close above her head that morning in my sight; and when I have answered Yes, it would have been.

This may be premature. I have set it down too soon, perhaps.

Yes. Yes, you have.

Fiveshadowing: the mark of people who have heard that foreshadowing is the mark of quality storytelling.

Comments

Posted by: kahnegabs (kahnegabs)
Posted at: October 15th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)

My understanding as to why his books are so interminably long is that he was paid by the word! It shows, I think.

Well, according to Wiki and Project Gutenburg, he got paid by the installment, rather than by the word. But installments, like movie serials, require that you come back for more, so the 'fiveshadowing' was part of the technique of keeping the installment reader interested.

Edited at 2010-10-15 07:02 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Lowell Gilbert (be_well_lowell)
Posted at: October 15th, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC)

Another implication is that because he was writing in installments, the audience would be waiting (potentially several) before the foreshadowing payoff arrived.

Posted by: kahnegabs (kahnegabs)
Posted at: October 15th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)

I agree.
Isn't it interesting that when we find out *why* people did things the way they did, it makes so much more sense?

What once looked to me like unnecessary wordiness has now become a commercial ploy for readership.

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: October 15th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC)
LotR pants

Well, it was an era with different literary standards.

Posted by: metahacker (metahacker)
Posted at: October 15th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC)
old crazy

I think this is a key element. I was rereading Count of Monte Cristo and it might have been up to sixshadowing by the end of the third chapter.

Posted by: kahnegabs (kahnegabs)
Posted at: October 15th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)

Indeed. I find myself thinking that the writers for a lot of our current TV show are using that example for their ideas.

lol

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