Oct 16

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! ‘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.
  • A delivery man finds the recipient of an order is not at home when he calls.

Jot down a few ideas and then pick one and write it in the middle of a page. Write your first thoughts about things than 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 further 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 exercising the brain. You might like one of the ideas enough to start developing it straight away as a story!


Take the example you have been given and work with a partner to develop it further

Report back and share ideas with the group

Choose a starting point of your own and develop it is the same way

Share  ideas.
Now write your story!




A cleaner takes it home           The Guard hands it in to lost property


A passenger takes it to read                 A child finds it         It is put in the bin





Someone idly scribbles graffiti in it                  Someone takes it and gives it away.


It has an important letter inside

(The owner reports it missing)                    A passenger finds a name inside

((There is a large sum of money in the sleeve))

The finder spends it          The finder hands it in

The finder sets out to find the owner


                                                        (It grows legs and sets off on an adventure)

It becomes a children’s book     It becomes a surreal story with lots of double meaning for adults



  1. I love the way Writers’ End is developing. Coming on in leaps and bounds. Congratulations.

    1. Thank you Bill- I have read your latest and will be writing a revue when I get around to it. I just got back from UK on Monday and am still catching up with myself. Hope you and yours are well. Sue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.