Narrative Techniques Series: #16 Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Narrative Techniques Series: #16 Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Let’s move on our journey between the Narrative Techniques Series.

Whether you believe in destiny or not, it seems evident that there is a common thread in everyone’s life. As in reality, so it is in narration. In particular, there is a Narrative Technique called Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. It leads the protagonist to discover the inevitability of their destiny.

What is the Narrative Technique of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

This Narrative Technique of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is not always a prophecy with a negative meaning. It can be a happy event that is foretold and then actually happens.
Similarly, the prophecy can be announced by a human character and not necessarily divine or magical. It can also be foretold in a funny, sympathetic way.

What is the function of the Narrative Technique of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

The purpose of using the Narrative Technique of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is twofold. First, it allows the reader to have a defined plot already. Secondly, to follow the narrative’s events carefully to see whether the prophecy finally comes true.

Most likely, it provides a few more details about the protagonist’s character. Are they a character who reacts to events or who suffers them? Will they be able to change their destiny despite the prophecy? These questions allow the reader to get a better idea of the protagonist and become engrossed in the story.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: some examples

An early example of the Narrative Technique of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is the one used in ‘Sleeping Beauty‘.
At the beginning of the story, the witch Maleficent appears at the court of the King and Queen. She wants to welcome little Aurora into the world. As a gift, she gives her a prophecy that she will die from a yarn needle on her sixteenth birthday.

Aurora’s three fairy godmothers turn the prediction curse from death to deep sleep as a precaution. Only a kiss of real love can wake her up. Needless to say, the prophecy comes true on Aurora’s birthday. She falls into a deep sleep, but the kiss of true love awakes her.

In the same way, in the ‘Matrix‘, there is also a prophecy and even the figure of the Oracle. When Neo goes to her to find out what his destiny will be, he immediately realizes the potential of the Oracle. Before Neo hits a vase, he says, “Don’t worry about the vase”, which will fall a few seconds later.

What the Oracle reveals to Neo is secret and has a hidden meaning. He thinks he is not the right person for the mission, the Chosen One. Thanks to these doubts and his personality, however, Neo will manage to find the strength and the right path to fulfill his destiny.

The princess shall indeed grow in grace and beauty, beloved by all who know her. But, before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die.

Maleficent- The Sleeping Beauty

bibisco and the novel planning software

The narrative technique of the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is significant to set up the plot of a story.
It allows building an imaginary bridge between the beginning and the end of the narrative. It gives the starting to the series of events leading towards the final prophecy.
To find out how and which narrative technique to use, you can use the novel planning software of bibisco.

Narrative Techniques Series: #16 Self-Fulfilling Prophecy - bibisco's chapter section
bibisco’s chapter section


This is one of the most ancient of our Narrative Techniques Series.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy aims to predict the protagonist’s fate at the end of the narrative. On the one hand, it makes it possible for the protagonist to follow the story prudently because they already have an idea of what might happen in the ending and want to check if this is really the case.

On the other hand, it allows the readers to know the protagonist better and see their temperament: will they react to events? Will they be able to change his destiny or not?

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