Premonition

by Alec
(New Jersey)

Question: Is it useful to have the main character have a premonition or dream/ flashforward with little detail of whats to come?


Answer: All techniques can be useful depending on the context and the effect you are trying to create. I assume in this case you're after a little suspense or to propel your character to start looking at an issue/possibility they haven't before? Of course, premonitions usually belong in stories about the supernatural, so you have to think about what genre you're writing in.

If you're not sure, try writing two versions of the story, one with the premonition and one without. See which one is more emotionally compelling and go with that one.

Comments for Premonition

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Dec 30, 2012
writing premonitions
by: Anonymous

My story's written in past tense and I figured, premonitions are things that happen in the future, so I thought it was natural for the premonitions in the story to be future tense. People in my writer's group said to write the premonition in present tense and someone said to write it in past tense as well. Writing premonitions in past tense makes no sense to me, so I'm not sure what I should do.

Dec 30, 2012
Response
by: Glen

Writing in future tense is usually a little awkward. (I will be standing...etc.) This is why future tense is usually only used for short statements. Premonitions, like dreams are experienced as if they are happening, which is where the argument for present tense comes from (as in "I am standing...").

Present tense is a little easier to pull off than future, but still more difficult than past tense, which is why 99% of narratives are written in past tense, with the narrator telling the story of something that happened, even in the case of a premonition (e.g. "I saw myself standing..." or "I was standing...").

Think of it as telling the story of how the character had a premonition. I think you'll see that past tense makes sense from that perspective.

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