If you haven’t heard of the Darwin Awards they are named in the “spirit of Charles Darwin, [and] commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival”.

The stories listed at the Darwin Awards web site demonstrate how many people don’t think through the consequences of their actions. Now, most of the time they don’t result in our death (just as well!), but the consequences can sometimes still be significant.

I recently got feedback on my manuscript that has made me question the consequences of my heroine’s actions. I had thought about the consequences in terms of moving the story forwards, and what it meant for my heroine. But when I was asked to think about how those actions might have affected other characters, I realised I hadn’t given it too much thought if the impact didn’t obviously affect the ability of my heroine to continue on her journey

I can see now I need to think about what my character does as a water droplet hitting a pond. As the droplet hits, the consequence of the impact matters most to my heroine, but as the water ripples outwards, others might be impacted, even slightly. And those impacts can affect my heroine – they can add depth to the story, show more layers to my characters and tighten my plot.

From now on I am going to think about the far reaching consequences of my heroine’s decisions. Hopefully my writing will be stronger for it.

3 comments on “Consequences…

  1. Excellent point. But I gotta admit, my brain was tuned in for a good Darwin story!

  2. Oh, I would hate to think you were disappointed, John. Here are two for you:

    1. A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites. It seems that he and a friend were playing a game of catch, using the rattlesnake as a ball.
    2. Employees in a medium-sized warehouse in west Texas noticed the smell of a gas leak. Sensibly, management evacuated the building, extinguishing all potential sources of ignition lights, power, etc. After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were dispatched. Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty navigating in the dark. To their frustration, none of the lights worked (you can see what’s coming, can’t you?). Witnesses later described the sight of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket and retrieving an object that resembled a cigarette lighter. Upon operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles away. Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician suspected of causing the blast had never been thought of as ‘bright’ by his peers.

  3. Oops, I should probably include an Aussie recipient in there…

    An Australian kung-fu master told his class in 1996 that they were good enough to ‘take on lions’. Clearly this encouragement was not supposed to be taken literally. One student took the words to heart and headed to his local zoo. Many shocked zoo visitors reportedly saw the ensuring ‘fight’, but we’ll leave the details up to your imagination.

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