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4.7: Cause and Effect

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    Have you ever noticed that when something happens, we like to know what “caused” it? And have you ever noticed that people don’t always agree on what causes something to happen? The fact that people can’t always seem to agree indicates that “cause and effect” may be as much a concept as it is a reality.

    For example, a huge boulder rolls down a hill suddenly, without anyone around to push it. It lands on a church full of worshippers, on a Sunday morning, and kills everyone. Now, there may be more than one “cause” for this event, depending on who is doing the explaining. Was the boulder “caused” to roll down the hill at that instant after thousands of years of wind and rain and erosion, with one last wind gust the final push? That is a sort of scientific explanation. Some people might say that such an occurrence is a little too coincidental, and maybe “the devil” caused it to kill all those nice people. Others might say “the Lord” did it to punish those evil people. Some might say it was just “sheer coincidence.” The point is that saying what the cause of something is, or what the effects of something are, is under our control as authors.

    It is the same for your object or place. You can determine what causes you to feel the way you do about it, what causes you to see it or think of it as you do. Or, if it was a gift, what caused the giver to give it? If it is broken, what caused it to break? And so on.

    1. “Cause” statements

    What are at least 3 different causes for the ways I see, feel about, or think about my object/place, or for the way it came to me, or why it is the way it is?

    Write at least 3 sentences that describe “causes” for your object or place, and at least 3 sentences that describe “effects” of your object/place. These causes may be causes for the way you feel, etc., about the object, or what causes it to be different, or what causes others to see it in a different way than you do, and so on. The same for effects. In other words:

    My fondness for the candle comes from the laughs we had together. I remember the fun because she was especially silly when she gave the candle to me. I think she gave it to me because she loved giving more than she liked the candle itself.

    2. “Effect” statements

    What are at least 3 different effects my object/place has on me?

    In the same way, what are its effects on you? What are its effects on others? What are some unexpected effects? And so on.

    The candle makes me sad at the same time. It reminds me of the last time I saw her. It makes me smile through my tears.

    3. “If/Then” Statements

    What are at least 3 ways to say something about your object or place using if/then sentence constructions?

    Another way to write cause and effect is to make sure that the sentences are structured in cause/effect language. One of the best forms of this language is “if/then” sentences. All parents are familiar with this sentence form, and its power:

    If you ever do that again young man, then you will be grounded for the rest of your life.

    I am still grounded. For a writer, “if/then” sentences reinforce the idea of cause and effect in the sentence structure.

    Write at least 3 sentences that are “if/then” sentences. They don’t have to have the words “if” and “then” in them, but they should be implied. For example:

    Example \(\PageIndex{1}\):

    Do that again and I’ll break your favorite glass.

    The “if” and “then” are implied in this example.

    Add these 3 sentences to the first six or so from above.

    3. “Because” statements

    What are at least 10 ways to complete a statement like “[My object] is special because _______”?

    One other way to express cause and effect in sentence structure is to use a word or phrase to link causes and effects, like “because” or “as a result of” or some similar device: I like to write because it makes people react. People react to my writing because of the little style devices that I use.

    Write at least 10 sentences using a cause/effect linking device like “because.” Start with one or two beginning phrases and repeat them 10 times, like

    The candle is special to me because _____________. (x 10)

    Fill in the blank 10 times. Add these 10 sentences to the end of your cause/effect writing.

    You may show cause and effect for any object or place this way. When you have a cause and effect constructed, you may add it to the other elements in your personal writing. When you finish ALL the elements, you may then arrange elements for greatest effect.

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