Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Premonitions - To See or Not To See?

Premonitions may be quite useful in thriller writing – they can and do indicate future events (often going horribly wrong) and they can be arbiters of death, dying or even some cataclysmic world-wide happenings.
Premonitions fascinate us because our understanding of how things can be foretold (or foreseen) without the aid of the usual human senses does not lie within the normal limits of our innate abilities. How can a person look into the future and – some would say - why would a person want to look into the future?
Through the ages, from time immemorial, there are countless instances and stories about premonitions and seeing future events that could not possibly have been foreseen. Or so it seems…I think most of us would agree that there are stories where we are stumped for answers and a quick straw poll of any largish group of people would, I am sure, come up with one or two stories that defy the laws of existence. And it all adds to the mystery…
One of the most famous people who claimed to foresee the future was, of course, Nostradamus. His writings and prophecies are with us still today – 500 years later. When I looked up his work and his life I found the following:
“Recent research suggests that much of Nostradamus’ prophetic work paraphrases collections of ancient ‘end of the world’ prophecies (mainly Bible-based), supplemented with references to historical events and anthologies of omen reports. He then projects those into the future in part with the aid of comparative horoscopy. Hence the many predictions involving ancient figures such as Sulla, Gaius Marius, and Nero, as well as his descriptions of "battles in the clouds" and "frogs falling from the sky."
But even when all the charlatans are taken out of the equations we still remain fascinated with the idea that some people can predict the future and some ordinary people can have ‘once in a lifetime’ premonitions ( especially about a loved one).
In my own writing (The Witcheye Gene) I used the concept for one of my characters but the visions only came about because of a particular familial characteristic of different colored eyes. And it was quite limited otherwise it can seem contrived and in the worst way seem like a ‘deus ex machina’ . But I did find it quite fascinating to research and include it in my plot. It actually ratcheted up the tension when one person could foresee something but no one else believed them.
Do you beleive some people can 'see' the future in some form or another? Have you ever used the idea in your own writing?


  1. I don't foresee the future, but I do experience a great deal of deja vu, which is a feeling like I've seen that moment before. It's disconcerting on one hand and thrilling on the other.

  2. I do believe to a certain extent, but I've never used it in my writing before. Great post!

  3. I've never used premonitions in any of my books. But like you said if they're done right, they can ratchet up the tension.

  4. I do believe some may have the ability to foresee or, rather, sense the future. I have used it in my writing too, but again more as an ability to sense something rather than see it exactly.

  5. I've always been fascinated by this. When I was younger I used to experience deja vu, but now it's faded. I've only had one premonition that I recall, but I really think it had more to do with the facts relating to the subject than any "feeling" I had.

    I've never used it in my writing, but I'll keep it on the back burner.