Cause and Effect in Writing

cause and effect with muted colorsNovels today are tighter than Nineteenth-century novels, for example. With busy lifestyles  readers now want the writer to stick to the point instead of going off on tangents and filling pages with descriptions and conversations that may be well-written but aren’t relevant to the plot.

Writers are expected to use every item, every conversation, every description, everything that is written to further the plot. Ford Madox Ford said “Not one single thread must ever escape your purpose.”

Every cause will have an effect. Maybe not immediately, maybe several chapters later, but the effect will be a believable result from a cause. Yet, fiction can appear to digress at times. But all pieces of the plot puzzle have to fit, which includes objects, dialog, setting, minor characters, subplots, everything must have significance in the story. A writer is always moving the story forward. Seemingly casual events let the reader relax in some parts, unaware that the plot continues with the writer’s clever strategy. What looks like asides are, as Ford said, “the art which conceals your Art.”


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For over twenty-five years, I've taught elementary grades, high school, and county special education classes. Now I am a field supervisor for teachers working toward their teaching credentials. I also teach writing classes in Dublin and Pleasanton, California. I have won 5 awards in short story contests, My stories are published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, and several anthologies including four times in Las Positas College collections. I have several book projects, but the two that have my immediate attention are HADA'S FOG, which is women's fiction, LILLI, a YA novel, and NORMAN IN THE PICTURE, a paranormal mystery. I have published an anthology WRITTEN ACROSS THE GENRES that includes writings from members of my writing classes and other writers. It's available on Amazon and Kindle.

2 thoughts on “Cause and Effect in Writing”

  1. No, Ladywinfred, not directed to you. Your beautiful poetic prose is just fine. You say in one stunning sentence what some people write in pages of fluff. The post is to remind novelists not to have superfluous paragraphs, scenes, or chapters. You know, like the paragraphs you found in my Chapter Ten? The post is directed to me as well.


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