November 28 Activity: Suspense and foreshadowing in a memoir are important.
In an earlier post, I had written about the importance of plot in your memoir. Plot is what happens in a story. For many readers, it is what keeps them a reading.
There are some fiction techniques—namely suspense and foreshadowing—that you can use in your memoir to keep the reader reading. Today’s post explores these techniques.
Suspense is the technique of suggesting that something important may or may not happen. Would I be accepted at the school is mild suspense. Alone in the house, I was suddenly awakened as I heard what I thought were heavy steps on the stairs leading to my bedroom is heavy suspense.
Foreshadowing tells the reader that something else will happen that will be important to the memoir. My mother married George and he was to play a big role in my life—little of which would be to my good is an example of foreshadowing. Here we learn that George is now in the picture and some bad results will happen for the hero as a result.
Suspense and foreshadowing in a memoir can be effective tools for creating greater interest. Remember though: These techniques are also dangerous as they risk slipping into cliché fast!
Reread stories in your memoir. Introduce phrases and sentences that generate either suspense or foreshadowing. This is in view of something that will happen later in the memoir. They are created generally not for the current story but for a subsequent one. Remember:
- Suspense: “What if I could not sustain this level of attention…?”
- Foreshadowing: “Little did I know then that…”
We have helped many people whose lives demanded to be recorded but who themselves were not writers to create interesting and well-written memoirs.
We listen to you speak your story. We ask you a multitude of questions. Then we get to work writing. We come back to you with text and you make lots of corrective comments and we ask you a whole lot of new questions. Then, we go back to writing again.
Over time, your story develops into a memoir—one that you have shaped at every stage of the writing process.
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