Foreshadowing occurs when a writer gives the reader a hint, or shadow, of what will happen later in the story. It can make the story more real and create more suspense. Mystery writers use foreshadowing a lot to give the reader clues as to the identity of the murderer.
The part of the story that the foreshadowing is referring to may come soon after the foreshadowing or much later. Occasionally an author will foreshadow with a false clue or hint which is called a red herring. It is a deliberate attempt to mislead the reader, and is widely used by mystery writers.
To answer the question, “What does the literary device foreshadowing mean?” you need to understand how an author shows it. Sometimes, foreshadowing is seen through a prediction by a character, or comes up in the dialogue between characters. Often it is an object, like a loaded gun, that will lead to the killer’s identity.
Sometimes the foreshadowing is very subtle or symbolic of future events, like a neighbor, a disagreement, or an event that seems inconsequential at the time. An example would be a character that complains of a headache and turns out later to have a brain tumor. However, the author may not want the audience to guess the outcome, so he would have to be careful and not make the foreshadowing too obvious.
Some writers have described suspense as being like a roller coaster. The trip up to the top is the suspense, and the fast trip down the hill is the pay-off.
Make the Climax Live Up to the SuspenseAs we all know, sometimes the anticipation is more exciting than the actual event. A nice sunny Saturday can turn into a snowbound weekend filled with cooking and cleaning. A suspenseful story can sputter out when the solution is unfolded. How do you plant the best ending for your story? Start by thinking of the reader. What would interest, shock, and shake the reader? Is the resolution too pat? If so, make it harder for your characters. Think of your characters, too, of course. Do they have enough obstacles? Are they reacting in character to what happens. Make sure the villains get an appropriate comeuppance. Take them to the mountain and let them find their own way home.
If the suspense is good enough, readers may forgive a relatively weak ending. However, they may be less likely to pick up your next book. The best writers of suspense know that they can get away with teasing the reader for only so long. Eventually, there has to be a pay-off. [source]