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What Chases Your Characters?

By Melanie Anne Phillips

A goal is what the characters chase, but what chases the characters?  Answer: the Consequences.  Consequences double the dramatic tension in a story by providing a negative result if the goal is not achieved.


Consequences may be emotional or logistic, but the more intense they are, the greater the tension.  Often they provide greater depth if there are emotional consequences when there is an external goal, and external consequences if there is an emotional goal.


Your story might be about avoiding the consequences or it might begin with the consequences already in place, and the goal is intended to end them.


If the consequences are intense enough, they can help provide motivation for characters who have no specific personal goals.


But no matter how you use them, a plot with consequences is stronger than one with only a goal.