Difference Between Foreshadowing and Flashback


Main Difference

The main difference between Foreshadowing and Flashback is that Foreshadowing describes the fate of the story, whereas Flashback explains the past incidences of a character.

Foreshadowing vs. Flashback

Foreshadowing is a suspense tool; on the other hand, a flashback is a motivation tool. Foreshadowing tells the upcoming events of a script, while flashback tells the earlier happenings in the script. Foreshadowing creates a thrill in the story; on the contrary, the flashback is always incident related. Foreshadowing describes indications of fate; on the flip side, flashback signifies the fear of a character.

Foreshadowing is used in certain required areas of writing, whereas flashback added at any point in the writing. There is a need to consider specific rules to implement foreshadowing while no specific rules need for the flashback. The narration of foreshadowing creates a boring end; on the other hand, the narration of flashback signifies better understanding. Foreshadowing is a strength of the story; on the flip side, a flashback is a motivation for a character.


Foreshadowing usage can be indirect or direct, whereas flashback usage is always direct and open. The forms of foreshadowing can be in the form of dialogue, metaphor or simile, the personality of the character, and atmosphere of the scene, while flashback inserts by memories and dreams.

Foreshadowing is less preferred as compared to flashback. Foreshadowing cannot apply for comparison, whereas flashback can be used for comparison of sad and happy times.

Comparison Chart

A technique used to create suspense in a story is foreshadowingA technique used to relate past events in the story is a flashback
To create suspense in scriptsCan be an incident related
Usage Area
At certain points in the scriptCan be used throughout the script
Hints of fateAbout fear of a person
Strength of a storyMotivations of a character
Preferred Technique
Less preferredMore preferred
Not used for comparisonComparison in poetry
Dialogue, the title of the storyDreams, memories
Makes Boring endsDeepens the understanding

What is Foreshadowing?

Foreshadowing is a literary term used to narrate the fate of the story in writing. It talks about the future, hints the upcoming events. It creates a sense of suspense, builds a dramatic story, curiosity, and sense of feeling not well. It all depends on the writer; is he using the technique efficiently or not. It is the power of a story. Sometimes the writer applied a distinct version of foreshadowing that creates suspense, but the reader does not understand till the end of the story.

Foreshadowing is a twist maker in a story like a film basis on a ghost story. The main character sees evils around himself. There can be many facts or elements of the story. Maybe the person itself is a ghost. The story will reveal at the end. It is an important tool, not only applied for storybooks, can be used in any book. Foreshadowing is important to create a dramatic situation. If a writer does not use it properly, the suspense reveals soon; the reader bore and show no interest, except for shock.

There can be many ways to use foreshadowing. The dialogues of characters can be a hint, title of the story, setting the atmosphere of the story, metaphor and simile use, the traits and appearance of the character, these are some ways to use foreshadowing in a story.


  • Direct Foreshadowing: In this type, the writer uses open clues and situations for the later story. The story, a twist, or a problem is openly described.
  • Indirect Foreshadowing: In this type, the story consists of clues and hints, but the reader cannot understand the hidden twist until the end of the story. This type of foreshadowing creates an original shocking situation. For instance, The Empire Strikes Back, is a mysterious story.

What is Flashback?

Flashback, as the term, shows it is an indication of past events. It is a technique to exaggerate a dramatic situation in a story and deepens the story. It is an important tool for character development as we see a character, when the past events related to the current situation, increase the strength of the character of the story. Flashback is a concrete weapon for a story.

For instance, in a story, if a man is afraid of heights. There can be an incidence in his life that created fear in mind. Maybe he survived an accident from a mountain. The time passed. But he is not able to overcome that fear, so the character has some back story of his past experiences. The character development occurs by a flashback. In Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the character Marlow tells about past events of his journey at the Congo River.

Flashback is an intrusion that the writer uses to input earlier actions to access the narration of the present situation. The methods of flashbacks are dreams and memories. It provides the background of the character and tells the character’s motive. In poetry, the poet uses the flashback to narrate the pleasure he had in the past, but now he lacks it. The poet use flashback to compare happy and sad days.

The poem “Birches” by “Robert Frost” has lines, “so was I once myself a swinger of birches. And so I dream of going back to be” and “I would like to get away from earth awhile, and then come back to it and begin over.” These lines specify that the poet wants to enjoy the freedom and happiness of the past days.

Key Differences

  1. Foreshadowing is a technique to hint the fate of writing, whereas flashback relates the past experiences with the recent incidence.
  2. Foreshadowing talks about coming events; on the flip side, flashback talks about gone events.
  3. Foreshadowing creates a thrill in a story; on the other side, flashback always relates a past happening in the story.
  4. Foreshadowing usage is at certain areas in a script to hint about the future of the story; conversely, flashback usage can be in the whole story.
  5. Foreshadowing narrates the fate of the story. On the other hand, flashback tells about fear of an incident.
  6. Foreshadowing is a strengthening tool of the story, whereas flashback negotiates the motives of a character.
  7. Foreshadowing provides less clarity, while flashback creates a better atmosphere of understanding.
  8. Foreshadowing is a fancied skill that a writer use; conversely, a flashback is a more preferred technique.
  9. Foreshadowing is not a comparing term; conversely, the flashback in poetry compares the good and bad time.
  10. Foreshadowing can be a dialogue hint, a title of the story, the dressing of a character, and metaphor or simile; on the other hand, the flashback is recalled as dreams or memories.
  11. Foreshadowing narrates the upcoming moments; hence, a reader finds a boring end on the other hand, in case flashback narration deepens the interest of the reader.


Foreshadowing and flashback are thrilling tools that writers use in their writing. Foreshadowing anticipates the future, and flashback generates a relationship between past and present happenings.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson