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30.10.2015 12:49    Comments: 0    Categories: Fiction Writing      Tags: forewarnings  master storyteller  melanie ann phillips  

Just as Goals have Requirements that indicate how much remains to be done to achieve the Goal, Consequences have Forewarnings that indicate how close the negative situation is to happening.


A Goal, of course, is what the characters are chasing.But a Consequence is what is chasing the characters.It is the negative situation that will happen if the Goal is not achieved.And sometimes it is the negative situation that already exists and will continue to exist if the Goal is not achieved.

Forewarnings, then, are events or conditions that tell your reader/audience how closely the Consequences are looming over the characters.For example, if a town is directly down stream of a dam that is holding back flood waters from an ongoing storm, the Goal might be to evacuate all the people, the Consequences would be that lives would be lost, and the Forewarnings could be cracks and leaks in the dam.

If the Consequences in a story would be losing someone's love, then Forewarnings might be that they stop calling on the phone, begin to have other plans on days that were always set aside to be together, or start to criticize the other person in pubic.

Forewarnings can be anything that would act as a symptom of the Consequence.In fact, the best Forewarnings are those that act as requirements of the Consequence.So, if someone stops calling, makes other plans, and begins to criticize, the Consequences will be achieved.  Just as with the cracks in the dam, there is a point at which a final Forewarning becomes the straw that broke the camel's back.

Although you might have a single kind of Forewarning, such as a series of instances where someone's credit card is declined (indicating that he is about to go bankrupt), it is far more refined and interesting to explore many different kinds of events that might be hint at the Consequences.

In our bankruptcy example, other kinds of Forewarnings might include worn spots showing up in his clothes, declining to join others at an expensive concert of his favorite singer, "forgetting" birthdays (so he doesn't have to buy a present), and so on.

In a storytelling sense, it is often fun to make the Forewarnings subtle enough that the reader/audience doesn't recognize them at first for what they are.Only after enough have occurred does a pattern emerge.And only then does the reader/audience realize the true nature of the potential Consequences, by working out what the Forewarnings are indicating.

All in all, Forewarnings are a means of building and maintaining pressure on your characters and tension in your reader/audience.

Become a Master Storyteller:

For a story you have written or are developing, list your Goal and your Consequence.Now, develop and describe all the Forewarnings that might indicate the Consequence is growing more likely, or that might actually bring about the Consequence if enough of them occur.

Excerpted from Master Storyteller

 
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