Cause and Effect: Does Your Character’s Behavior Make Sense? – From the Writers in the Storm blog


by Angela Ackerman

Have you been in a situation where someone acts erratically, and not in a good way? It takes you by surprise, doesn’t it? Imagine this scenario: you’re sitting around the lunch table with coworkers and pop out a joke. Instead of a wave of laughter, one of your tablemates begins to sob. Or they jump up, shove the table, and walk out.

Your emotional response? Befuddlement (What just happened?Guilt (What did I say?Judgement (Wow, she’s unstable.)

It’s always a bit uncomfortable when we can’t follow the logic of cause and effect. A joke should prompt laughter, head shaking and a grin, or maybe if poorly delivered, an awkward beat of silence. These are reactions we expect.

Cause-and-effect is very important in the real world.

This sequence helps us navigate life. When we know what to expect, we know what to do.

Study for a test to pass it.

Pay the mortgage to have a safe place to live.

It also helps us know what not to do.

Drinking too much causes a hangover.

People who leave a paper trail get caught.
If I tell the boss what I really think, I’ll be fired.

Cause-and-effect helps us plan and gives us a sense of control over our lives.

Guess who else is hardwired to notice cause-and-effect? Readers.

Read the rest of this post HERE:

4 thoughts on “Cause and Effect: Does Your Character’s Behavior Make Sense? – From the Writers in the Storm blog

  1. And example of an action that really happens, but can throw a viewer off happens in the movie “Tears of the Sun”. In it, one of the characters has a grenade explode near her. With a firefight raging around her, she just sits there. My son-in-law, who has never been in combat or understands what happens in it commented how it blew the movie for him. i asked if he’d ever been blown up (of course he hand’t). I had to explain the shock, and that she’s probably suffering a minor concussion because of the blast. In short, she couldn’t do anything else except sit there.

    Another scene that is very realistic but throws people happens in Master and Commander. There’s been a nearby explosion and one character is sitting there laughing. Again, we have some evidence of brain damage, and stuff like this happens in combat. But if viewers don’t know that, it becomes illogical. as writers, we can go into why the character is acting so irrationally. all that to say if they do something illogical, we need to dive into why’s.

    Liked by 1 person

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