As much as I want to, I just haven't been able to turn off my brain while reading. I've been having this problem for a year now.
It's the constant chatter. Sure, I'm swept away. But a part of my brain keeps pointing out, "Oh! He started with that scene to establish that she's both dangerous and a good person." And, "Oh! Okay, that remark is just foreshadowing what is going to happen in the story."
I just wonder: is foreshadowing a technique, or a mental burp?
I mean, really, I never think of foreshadowing. I think of paralleling part of my story or theme in main and sub-plots, but I never think of foreshadowing.
In fact, I wonder if most of the "techniques" we fiction writers use are not really techniques, but accidents. Subconscious burps, so to speak.
When I notice certain things in a novel that make it work, I often wonder: did he mean to do that, or did it just happen? Was it some instinct that put it there, or a subconscious knowledge of what makes a story tick? Do people decide, after the fact, to put that stuff in? During the process? Before the process?
Or do we sit there and continually ask ourselves, while writing, what we want the reader to feel? And then end up selecting that technique (consciously or subconsciously) that will emotionally grab the reader?
Subconscious burps or conscious techniques?
That's really what I want to know. A mixture, probably.
Do you guys "install" certain elements or techniques to strengthen your story? Do you ever discover them in your work, a welcome surprise?