Cause and Effect in Novel Writing

Cause and Effect in Novel Writing
Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Cause and Effect in Novel Writing

Last week, I took a little break because of the holiday in the U.S., but this week, we’re talking about cause and effect in fiction novels.

Troubleshooting Your Novel by Steven James has a big section about this:

He suggests asking yourself these questions to fine-tune your story.

  • “Do realizations or insights occur after the event that caused them (as would naturally happen), or do I have things in the wrong order?
  • “Does this scene move from cause to effect? If not, why not? Can I tweak the story to show the natural flow of events rather than stop after they’ve happened to explain why they did?
  • “Does context dictate that I reverse the order to effect to cause? Rendering the story this way will force readers to ask, “Why?” Do I want them to do so at this moment in the book? Would lack of clarity about the character’s intention help readers engage with the story at this point? If it won’t, how can I recast it?
  • “What will I do to ensure that each ball rolls naturally away from the one that just hit it, both in action sequences and in dialogue?”

And for a quicker fix, he suggests:

“Analyze every scene, as well as every paragraph, to weed out cause-and-effect problems. Pinpoint the connections between events. Does each action have an appropriate consequence? Does the emotional resonance of a scene fit in congruently from the actions within that scene?”

Thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out my substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the other tips and submission opportunties and exercises are there.


Author: carriejonesbooks

I am the NYT and internationally-bestselling author of children's books, which include the NEED series, FLYING series, TIME STOPPERS series, DEAR BULLY and other books. I like hedgehogs and puppies and warm places. I have none of these things in my life.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: