On numerous occasions, I have had to go back to my story and insert plot elements or objects into the beginning so that the end and middle would work better and make more sense.
For instance, I’ll have a particular object that turns up out of the blue at the end of the story. How did it get there? What’s its significance? Then I’ll have to “plant” it earlier on in the beginning of the story so that it makes sense to include it in the end – it won’t seem so randomly placed.
“Planting” things smooths the plot and ties everything together. It’s especially good for creating subplots. Sometimes, planting an object or plot device can add an entirely new plotline that can bring depth to the story.
I’ve noticed the “planting” technique in books I’ve read. At the beginning of the book, there’s a seemingly pointless or insignificant object that suddenly takes on a lot of meaning in later chapters. It makes me think that the book has come full circle when the objects from the beginning are given significance and meaning. Everything ties together better and I admire authors who can do that well.
Symbolism works that way, too. Putting a symbol at the beginning can be hard if you draw too much attention to it; that way the reader knows it’s a symbol – that’s almost like a spoiler and can give away the ending of the book. Don’t draw too much attention to your symbols. That way, when they become important in the end, it’s more of an “ah-ha” moment than it would be if the reader had guessed the symbol’s true importance all along. I’d think it would make the book more of a satisfying read.
Do you ever go back and plant symbols/objects/plot devices in your stories?