May 02

The Law of Unintended Consequences

The Law of Unintended Consequences



We all know that ‘for every action there is a reaction’. Also, we know from experience that sometimes it is possible to do something from good intentions and cause mayhem or even totally unexpected good, the law of unintended consequences!

Using the idea of ‘What if…? and the mind map format that we used recently in a vocabulary exercise, you can explore ideas for a story and plot development by starting with a simple idea. Eg

  • Animal rights activists free animals into the wild.
  • A person is made late for an appointment
  • Someone leaves a book on a train.

Jot down a few ideas and then pick one and write it in the middle of a page. Write your first thoughts about things that might happen next, around it quickly and using just free association.

When you have finished ie when you start having to stop and think, take each of the secondary ideas and explore them in the same way. Use a large piece of paper and keep moving out surrounding each idea with new ideas that it prompts

You could just do this with a few starting points as an exercise and file them away, if you think they are worth keeping or you could just see it as a way of exercising the brain. You might like one of the outcomes enough to start developing it straight away as a story, or the next blockbuster novel!

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