Writing Tip: Cause and Effect

I find it incredibly helpful to ask myself: “What happens in this scene that causes the next scene to take place?”

For me, this is a pretty quick way to figure out if the pacing of the story is as tight as it can be, and if the plot and characters are moving the story forward. And while there are times that a scene won’t be directly affected by the one that precedes it, for the major of a story, I find it necessary for each scene to prompt the one that follows.

This isn’t to say a story should feel like: problem/problem solved, problem/problem solved, problem/problem solved. In fact, a story should rarely feel like that (instead a story should lay ground work that is paid off later on… problems and their solutions should be woven throughout a story). But, as far as the characters are concerned — and indeed the reader — usually scenes in a story should end by causing the next scene to happen. This makes sense for the characters, and it also helps to keep the pacing of the story moving at a good clip.

Cause and effect are necessary to propel the story forward. And how those causes and effects are laid out are crucial to a story’s pacing.

Post by Ann Marie Williams © 2022