by James Edgar Gault
The context of the extract:
The heroine, Anna Petrovna, has quit her job but she has made a deal with her old boss that allows her to set up a little business she can run from home. She is in her flat, waiting for her fiance to come home from his job so she can tell him what she has arranged.
“She heard the door of the flat open and close. She waited, sipping her tea, turning her back a little to the door so she wouldn’t see him come in. It was a little ritual they had. He would come in, she would pretend not to see him, he would creep up behind her and kiss her gently on the back of the neck, she would purr. She loved this ceremony; it was a tribute to her regal power.”
In this little paragraph, I’m creating the atmosphere and the power structure of the relationship between the couple. The little ritual has nothing to do with the plot, we won’t hear of it again and it has no significance in the story, but it is a vital clue to what is going to happen. Let me explain!
The key phrase here is ‘regal power’. Quite clearly the head of this household is the girl. You should also note that the whole thing is staged, a pretence, encouraged by her. The reader is meant to get the idea that this woman is not only bossy but she is insincere in the relationship. I use the words ‘ceremony’ and ‘tribute’ to suggest this insincerity. This ritual both enforces her superiority and gives the man the sense that his role is to please her. The word ‘purr’ with its associated imagery of a pet cat was chosen to reinforce this role. My purpose is to give the reader the idea that what we have here is not entirely a satisfactory and stable relationship. The girl is in it for her own ends, and she doesn’t care too much for the man’s feelings or wishes.
Why does the reader need to know this? Because, unsurprisingly, this relationship is doomed and they will break up later in the book. And I want to prime the reader for the subsequent problems the couple will have and the eventual collapse of their marriage.
This is what foreshadowing does: it helps make the subsequent plot development more credible because you have signaled the possibility of that development earlier, and it poses intriguing questions to keep the reader interested. You just have to hope that your readers pick up the signals.
About the author:
James Gault, born in Scotland, has recently retired to SW France after spending ten years in the Czech Republic. There he enjoys the sunshine, writes novels, short stories and English Language textbooks.
He also produces the on-line literary magazine Vox Lit with monthly notes by writers for writers and readers, news, features (short stories, poems and extracts from novels.)
He has written four novels, all available on Amazon as e-books and paperbacks:
Teaching Tania (Young Tania tries to put the world to rights with the help of her English teacher – a comic detective story)
Ogg (Supernatural being tries to teach teenage Antonia how to think rationally as they try to save the world from destruction – comic philosophical thriller)
The Redemption of Anna Petrovna (Young woman in ex-communist country tries to build a career in a totally corrupt society – political psychological thriller.
Best Intelligence – a detective thriller set in Scotland, France and Spain.
Current work in progress: the sequel to Best Intelligence and a satirical novella on the Trump-Putin relationship.
As well as ELT books and his novels, he has written short stories published in various reviews and magazines. In 2007, he won the writing prize from the British Czech and Slovak Society for his short story ‘Old Honza’s Day Out’.
In his time James has been an IT specialist, a businessman and a teacher as well as a writer, and has traveled extensively throughout Europe. He has worked with and taught English to students of many nationalities. He has an international outlook on life and his writing reflects both this and his other interests.
Apart from writing, his passions are politics, philosophy, film making, computer system development and his grandchildren.