Write Your Novel Step by Step (Home Page)

Write Your Novel
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By Melanie Anne Phillips
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~ Step 69 ~


In most stories, the Consequence is what will happen if the Goal is not achieved.  In some stories, however, the Consequence already exists, and will continue to be suffered unless or until the Goal is achieved.  Either way, for maximum tension in your novel, you need to ensure your readers are clear on what will happen if the effort to achieve the goal end in failure.

In this step, your task is to determine how you wish to reveal your Consequence to your readers.  Some Consequences, like the smoldering volcano above the town, are more or less self-evident.  But in a deep character study story, the Consequence may only become apparent near the end, when the Main Character is on the verge of achieving his or her Goal.  This character's motivation may be the fear of this unspoken consequence, which ultimately must be specified.

The Consequence in The Godfather, is only stated outright in the middle of the film, when the failing Don (Marlon Brando) succinctly tells his son Michael (Al Pacino) that if Michael fails to achieve a unified family, they will all be like puppets, rather than rulers.

Even before the Consequence is specifically revealed, it can often be felt like a pall, hanging over the story, or at least over some of the characters.  And the actions of characters can ultimately be more driven by fear of the Consequence than desire for the Goal.

In this step, describe how you will reveal the nature of the Consequence to your readers, then list all the other ways in which the Consequence might affect the course of your story and the decisions and actions of your characters.