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November 28 Activity: Create Suspense and Foreshadowing in A Memoir

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!

Action step

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…”

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