More about Effect and Cause

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Graphic of a crossed sword and a pencilWhile we were talking last week about Effect and Cause, I forgot to mention something I’d actually written down so I’d remember!

So here’s the sentence. I changed it from the original, of course. I’m not here to make fun of my clients! However, they do inspire me. Daily.

A flush crept over her cheeks after she leaned back and met his gaze.

See how that’s problematic? We get the result before we’re told what’s happening. And while his gaze can be a delicious thing to end a sentence on, I think in this case that the important detail here isn’t him, but her.

So I’d rewrite it as:
A flush crept over her cheeks, but she leaned back and met his gaze anyway.

Aha. Now there’s some meat in there. She’s embarrassed by something, but not so much that she’s ready to run and hide from him. If anything, she’s owning it. She’s a brave one, our unnamed heroine.

And here’s what I wrote to the author. Yes, this part is verbatim because it’s my words and I liked them so much I wanted to share them with all of you. (Yes, as in why confine my brilliance to just one person?)

Here, you can have the effect happen as part of the whole moment. Doing it this way is super; it makes each moment bigger, fuller. It’s a broader brush stroke instead of making the reader’s brain stop and take in each individual movement.

Or, like I said above, it’s putting some meat on the same set of actions, giving us something that helps bring these people (well, at least her) alive. And that’s what you want: Characters to feel alive. You want the reader to be able to learn more than a simple set of actions; you want to give us some characterization as well.

Holler, as always, if you need help.

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