02 July 2014

Cause and Effect Scene by Scene

Cause and effect within and between scenes allows you to seamlessly lead the reader to each major turning point by linking the cause in one scene to the effect in the next scene. This sequencing allows the energy of the story to rise smoothly.

If the sequence breaks down, scenes come out of the blue, and your story turns episodic. The reader, in turn, becomes disconcerted.

A story is made up of scenes with a clear dependence on each other. Conflict in a scene represents the motivating cause that sets a series of events in motion. As you test for cause and effect notice how some features of your story are more important than others. Look for patterns and see what elements lead to the thematic significance and which do not.

Scenes with No Cause and Effect 
As important as it is to study how scenes are linked by cause and effect, it’s just as important to analyze scenes with no line(s) linking them to others. Note any unexpected objects, locations, and actions in and between scenes deserve foreshadowing and earlier mentions and hints.

The reader (and the protagonist) doesn’t have an outline of the story and thus can only anticipate what is coming by discerning the clues given along the way by the use of foreshadowing. The life of the story takes on its own particular shape, and its sequence seems inevitable to the reader and audience because of foreshadowing.

Emotional Cause and Effect 
Use cause and effect to convey emotion in the protagonist. In one scene, a character responds emotionally to an event. In the next scene, we see the outcome of that emotional response, which, in turn, becomes the cause for another emotional effect. Each scene is organic; seeds planted in the first scene create the effect in the next.

Your Turn
Once again, push aside the words of your story. This time, stand back from it to determine the causality between scenes and the overall coherence of your story. View your story as a whole. With such an insight, you are better able to turn scenes with emotionally rich characters who are experiencing conflict into the driving force behind an exceptional story.
(Taken from: The Plot Whisperer Workbook Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories)
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