Textual Evidence for Predictions
When reading good literature, the reader is moved to engage actively in the text. One part of being an active reader involves making predictions. A prediction is a guess about what will happen next. Readers are constantly making predictions based on what they have read and what they already know. Consider the following sentence: “Staring at the computer screen in shock, Kim blindly reached over for the brimming glass of water on the shelf to her side.” The sentence suggests that Kim is agitated and that she is not looking at the glass she is going to pick up, so a reader might predict that she is going to knock the glass over. Of course, not every prediction will be accurate: perhaps Kim will pick the glass up cleanly. Nevertheless, the author has certainly created the expectation that the water might be spilled. Predictions are always subject to revision as the reader acquires more information.
Textual Evidence for Predictions
A prediction is an educated guess about what will come later in a text. Now, your predictions can be about any event, or about how a character will behave. Any prediction you make must be based on information in the text, or based on knowledge about literature in general.
For instance, if you’ve seen how a character has acted in a story so far, you can make a prediction about his future actions, and with your knowledge about literature, you know the basic lay out of a mystery novel. You might be able to predict who did something in a story or how the story is going to end up based on your general knowledge of literature. The more you read, the more your general knowledge about literature is going to increase, so you may be able to make more predictions the more you read.
One specific way that you might find textual support for prediction is with foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is when the author hints at something that will occur later in the plot. Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes the author doesn’t say exactly what will happen. It may mention storm clouds on the horizon. The storm clouds could equal danger or something bad happening. If you have a character who is going through a tough time, and then they see storm clouds on the horizon or someone mentions a storm might be coming then that maybe the author’s way of hinting that something bad is coming or danger is approaching.
However, sometimes foreshadowing could be more direct, as in Romeo and Juliet. They talk about how they would rather die than live without one another. That was William Shakespeare’s way of hinting that, in the end, when they thought that they might live without one another, they did end up killing themselves rather than live without the other one. Sometimes foreshadowing comes in the form of a fortune teller. There are a lot of stories that include a fortune teller or someone that happens to tell someone’s fortune or tell their future even without being labeled a fortune teller. They’ll say exactly what’s going to happen, then later on that’s how the plot unfolds.
Sometimes the author will throw in what’s called a “red herring”. That’s when they tell you what’s going to happen, but it doesn’t really happen. You have to pay attention because sometimes the author may give you a direct foreshadowing example. They may go and say exactly what’s going to happen, and that will be true. Sometimes they will give a really big hint, or they’ll even lay out the prediction with the fortune teller or by the characters discussing how they feel things are going to end up, but it’s a red herring because that’s not really how the author ends the story. Don’t always think that if the author tells you something’s going to happen that it’s going to happen.
Foreshadowing can often be a good textual support for any prediction you’re going to make. Whenever you are making predictions while you’re reading a story, make sure that your predictions are based on evidence either from the story itself, information in that text, or information that you’ve gained from reading other books and getting a general knowledge about literature.