Story Development Tip: “Non-Causality”

Interest in your story can be amped up by creating a difference between what an audience is led to expect and what actually happens. A prime example occurs in the Laurel and Hardy film, The Music Box. Stan and Ollie are piano movers. The setup is their efforts to get a piano up a quarter mile flight of stairs to a hillside house. Every time they get to the top, one way or another it slides down to the bottom again through a series of misadventures – Murphy’s Law to the extreme!

Finally, they get it up there only to discover the address is on the second floor! So, they rig a block and tackle and begin to hoist the piano up to the second floor window. As before with the stairs, the winch strains, the rope frays, the piano sways. And just when they get the piano up to the window, they simply push it inside without incident.  Almost invariably, the audience members break into raucous laughter when they realize they have been set-up and duped.

Try applying this technique to your story by creating a series of causal relationships that aren’t really absolute, and then breaking that causality for comic or dramatic or ironic effect.

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