Friday, September 12, 2014


Foreshadowing is a particularly important tool in a novel because it creates tension, a singularly good way to hold a reader's attention.

Literature is usually excluded from the sequential arts, a term applied to comic books, Such arts employ sequential images to tell a story or impart information. But I wrote my first novel with chapters which are sequential by subject interwoven with other chapters which have little to do with the tension-building sequences.

A significant theme of "The Leather Man" _ the crumbling of Ben and Gloria Steinbrecher's marriage _ is hinted at in the second, third, 11th and 15th chapters. In the latter two, Ben meets Sherry Sullivan, and Brock Banning, a standout in Ben's Canyon State Wranglers defense, reminisces about striking up an acquaintance with Gloria. With character development for the novel complete, the theme of marital instability then forks into separate sequences in the middle section, defined in my earlier post "Balancing The Book" as Chapters 16-39.

Chapter 20 ("St. Agnes' Eve") is where Sherry has to confront her feelings about Ben, and another sequence begins with Chapter 26 ("Undertones"), in which Gloria feels compelled to catch Canyon State practices, something she's never done, to watch Brock in action.

By Chapter 29, the Gloria-Brock angle has taken a tick upward: She's looking through the wine section at a grocery store when her mind drifts to the previous day's last full-contact practice session before the season opener. Specifically, she remembers the middle linebacker with the tight pants whose fierce roars at the offense are especially audible with no crowd noise. Then she awakens to reality with Brock looking at her over a display of cheeses.

Gloria wonders if she's blushing, but bounces back quickly with a mild put-down:
"You're Brock, right?" she said, feeling more in control as soon as she uttered the words. Let him try to cross that gorge! I met you last spring, didn't I?"
Brock isn't fazed by the low-caliber snub and reminds her that he met Gloria and Sandy Wilson, another coaching wife, months ago in a college hangout where she ordered gimlets. He observes that her tastes seem to have evolved from gin to wine. Gloria says she has a small wine collection at home, Brock responds that he wouldn't mind sampling it, and Gloria tries one last bit of banter, saying that "Coach Steinbrecher" doesn't invite players to his home.

That's when Brock breaks through the persiflage:
"You said it was your wine," he answered, looking into her eyes. "I wasn't thinking about any group get-together, just a private look at all the burgundies and chardonnays lying on their sides."
That's enough to alert Gloria to a turning point in their relationship, and, as if it weren't, Brock lets her know, a few sentences later, that he's been eyeing her from the practice field:
"The way you and Sandy have been coming to practice, I'm surprised you didn't know my number too."
"Fifty-one," she replied. "I'll let you know about the tour."

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