Writing With Consequences

Here’s a quick writing tip I’ve been pondering the last week or two:

Writing With Consequences

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If something happens in your story, (your MC gets in a car accident, something is stolen from their purse, boyfriend breaks up with them, etc) your story will feel more authentic if there are clear consequences.

These consequences can (and should) be beyond the immediate, obvious ones.

In good books, I’ve started noticing how authors use lasting consequences to add depth to the story.

Peeta-and-Katniss-the-hunger-games-movie-29587091-500-360Peeta’s leg is amputated and he’s given a robotic one. This new leg slows him down from there on out, even into the next books.

Or…

Katniss loses hearing in one ear after an explosion. The explosion was the conflict, the plot, but the hearing loss was the consequence which lasted beyond just the immediate event.

Consequences not only help build the intensity of the plot, but they are more impactful (memorable) for the reader, allowing them to live the story rather than read it. Plus, later in the story, having long term consequences conflict can remind the reader what happened earlier without having to hash out the conflict again.

However not having appropriate or long-lasting consequences can give the reader a feeling that your story isn’t believable–though they might not be able to put a finger on why.

Some Basic Examples

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Main Character is in Car Accident:Car_crash_2

  • Immediate consequences: assessing injuries, damage to car, being late or missing appointment
  • Longer consequences: sore neck or back, having to replace damaged car, insurance woes, hesitancy driving again

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Something stolen:

  • Immediate consequence: freaked out, missing object, trying to find perpetrator
  • Longer consequences: difficulty replacing item or money, prosecuting (or finding) person, needing item for something and not having it

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Breakup/Divorce: 

Immediate consequences: anger, hurt, snapping at other people more, having to change any future plans made together, worry about how to get stuff back that the other person had

Longer consequences: being leery of dating again, bad memories of certain places, losing friends or social invites to couple events. In the case of divorce, long-term financial loses, children custody issues

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Okay. I’m not even being very creative with these. The lists are endless.

But as an author, I’m trying to be more aware of my story’s conflict so I can make sure the consequences are realistic, vibrant, and long lasting.

Good luck!

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What about you? Any ideas on how to use consequences in your writing? Leave your thoughts in the comments here.

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Consequences in Writing

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Author: Rebecca Belliston @rlbelliston

Hopeless romantic and author of CITIZENS OF LOGAN POND, SADIE and AUGUSTINA. Music nerd and composer of RELIGIOUS and CLASSICAL-STYLE music. I live in Michigan with my husband and five kids.

4 thoughts on “Writing With Consequences”

  1. Good thoughts. And I love the long-lasting consequences that help the reader remember what happened a lot earlier (since I’m forgetful).

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