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?”
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