7

Is there a literary term for when an author refers to something that is going to happen later?

I am referring to two usages of this technique.

The first is when an author says "as will be explained later" or some variation there-of.

The second, which I am more interested in, is when the author says "before XYZ changed all of that" when XYZ is something that happens later in the story.

An example of the second usage is in Genesis 13:10, which refers to the destruction of Sodom before it occurs.

1
  • @Kris Thanks. I'm not sure if the title was inaccurate or not, but I changed it. Oct 30, 2014 at 23:55

1 Answer 1

11

The term foreshadowing often is used in this context. From en.wiktionary, it means “A literary device in which an author drops subtle hints about plot developments to come later in the story”.

If the hints are less than subtle – as in Genesis 13:10, which parenthetically remarks, “This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah” – one might refer, somewhat oxymoronically, to blatant foreshadowing, or perhaps premature dénouement.

Terms that suggest unsubtle foreshadowing include announcing (“To give public notice, or first notice of; to make known; to publish; to proclaim”), annunciating (“To announce”), and prefiguring (“To show or suggest ahead of time; to represent beforehand (often used in a Biblical context)”).

Terms more akin to foreshadowing include presage, portend, and perhaps augur.

4
  • 1
    See also Chekhov's gun. Oct 29, 2014 at 18:37
  • In a strictly religious context, I would call it a prophecy about a future event (a supernatural prediction of the future).
    – BradC
    Apr 6, 2017 at 18:42
  • @BradC, yes, prophecy, “A prediction, especially one made by a prophet or under divine inspiration”, is a good related term. But typically, prophecy may be something the author of a work writes about vs using it to drop hints about future plot developments. Apr 6, 2017 at 18:56
  • All in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. Those who view the Bible as actually divinely inspired would view the words of Genesis as "true" prophecy (since the "author" of scripture is believed to be God himself). Modern writers are probably better off not trying to claim that for their own work :)
    – BradC
    Apr 6, 2017 at 19:06

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.