Prepping for NaNoWriMo: Step Four – The Chain of Causation
The Magical Chain of Causation
This is a step you don’t read about very often. I learned about the Chain of Causation from an author friend of mine, Marylee MacDonald. Sometimes called The String of Becauses, it is exactly what it sounds like. You start at the beginning of your story. What is the first thing that happens in your story? Write that at the top of your paper.
Regina and her friends play in a abandoned house.
Now comes the fun part. What happens BECAUSE they play in the abandoned house? Write it down:
Because they play in an abandoned house, they see a swirling light in the basement.
And continue…all the way to the end of the story.
Because they see a swirling light in the basement, they decide to investigate.
Because they decide to investigate, they discover a portal.
Because they discover a portal, they are curious to know what happens when they step inside.
Because they are curious to know what happens when they step inside, Regina grabs Jason’s hand and pulls him through with her.
You get the drift. Every sentence must start with the second part of the sentence before. This exercise only contains the visible and logical sequence of events in the book. Anything that is “off screen” is not included. Any scene that doesn’t focus on the protagonist(s) is not involved. This is just a chain of causation for the events in your protagonist’s viewpoint. You could also perform this from other viewpoints, if you need to, but start with your protagonist.
Why do this? What makes this exercise so special? The answer is simple.
If you have a chain of cause and effect and cause and effect written for your entire novel, the odds of having plot holes virtually disappear.
And if you aren’t worried about plot holes, your writing will be much faster than it would otherwise. I’d say that makes this exercise well worth the hours you spend!