Thinking in Cause and Effect

Posted by annastan on August 5th, 2014. Filed under: A Closer Look, Craft, TV and Movies.

I was recently interviewed for Bay State Parent Magazine with 3 other local authors–they had us come in for a photo shoot and everything! Here’s the official article. And my first draft I’M WITH CUPID is off to my editor! Woohoo! That means I can actually take a real vacation for a little bit before it’s time to dive into ┬árevising the novel and teaching my fall class.


I saw a great video from the creators of South Park yesterday that ┬ácontained an important reminder: An outline of your story that has an implied “and then” at the start of every sentence isn’t really a story because the events don’t depend on one another. Instead, they suggest starting every sentence of your outline with the words “therefore” or “but.” This ensures that your events are interconnected and dependent on one another. ┬áThis approach will help the story feel cohesive and creature forward momentum.

Here’s the video. (Just a warning that, unsurprisingly, it contains a little bit of foul language.)

I love these kinds of simple reminders and techniques that help make sure our stories are on the right track. What simple but effective craft advice have you heard recently?

3 Responses to Thinking in Cause and Effect

  1. Jenni Enzor

    I love this tip of thinking in therefore instead of and then! This is something I’m working on right now–making sure the actions of my plot flow from the characters, instead of being arbitrary events.

  2. Mirka Breen

    When you ask a young child to write a story she will almost always have a series of this-happened-then-that. I suppose having a coherent thread with a resolution is the sign of growing up.

  3. Becky Shillington

    This is a terrific video, Anna–thank you so much for sharing it. I especially appreciate the concrete “take away” not to rely on “and thens” to move a story along. That is a great way to think about it! = )