Cause and Effect: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth


Apologies in advance. This is going to be a little political for a second before I work my way around to how this is useful information for you.

I’ve been utterly captivated by the news for the last couple of days. The UK made the historic decision to leave the EU last night. The PM, David Cameron, is now set to step down. Scotland is so pissed off that they’re thinking of voting for independence so they can rejoin the EU as their own separate entity.

The DOW is down almost 500 points. The British Pound is lower than it’s been since 1985. The Asian markets are in a complete tailspin. Why? In short, the  because no one knows what’s going to happen next. That brings us to today’s lesson…


As a romance writer, we’re not tearing asunder the European Union. We don’t have to worry about trade, immigration, etc.. or any of the million things that were a consideration in that process. What we do is more about predicting the human/character reaction to certain stimuli.

It’s our job to not only weave an interesting tale, but to make it relatively believable. It’s important to consider the circumstances, the character’s personality, and the character’s history when crafting your story line.

Example: I’ve read plenty a book where a sweet, virginal woman finds out that her new boyfriend is part wolf, or a vampire. Normally, the explosive reveal happens right before or right after they hit the sheets and she knows nothing of the paranormal world. It’s usually followed by copious amounts of fornication, some biting and/or blood drinking.

*imagine a needle scratching against record as the music stops abruptly*

No. If this woman isn’t screaming her freaking head off and running for the hills, there’s something wrong with the way you crafted the reaction. If she’s not already aware of their existence or interested in the paranormal in a way that’s been established.. This is a really hard sell. Nearly flipping impossible.

Example: What about the scenario where a heroine has been taken, tortured, raped, then she comes home and immediately hops into bed with another person or group of persons.

*cue the needle scratch noise again*

Again, without a very specific set of circumstances, there’s basically no way that this makes any sense. She’s going to have some shit to process. She’s going to need time to do that. She’s almost assuredly not going to want a dick (or several) in her while she’s doing that.

I’ve seen these scenes in multiple books and they always make me cringe. When the story line, and character reactions don’t account for cause and effect from certain actions/revelations, it tears the reader out of the story. Once you’ve been torn from a story, it’s nearly impossible to find your way back in.

When you’re planning a story line, it’s imperative to consider the real, human reaction that people are going to have to the things that happen around them. It’s important to think about how the people around the hero(ine) are going to react to the way that they’re reacting. If you’re writing about a different species or alien, make damn sure that if you’re eschewing a human reaction to something that you’re already established that these creatures don’t react as humans do.

See, I told you I’d totally bring you back around to something non-political. 😉


Michelle Roth



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About Michelle Roth

Michelle Roth is a novelist from the Great White North (Toronto, ON). When she’s not disappearing into foreign lands, or making two perfect strangers that she invented fall in love, she’s probably curled up somewhere with a glass of wine and a good book. In her spare time she is typically hanging out with her awesome boyfriend and their two equally awesome cats. She likes taking road trips to nowhere in particular, cooking elaborate meals then making other people do the dishes, and being nerdy on the internet. Her books are currently available on

5 thoughts on “Cause and Effect: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth

  1. What a great post!! So true! I read a book that I had to just shake my head at. A USA Today Bestseller in fact. Heroine was raped, tortured, beaten and addicted to crack because she was being held by a drug cartel. In comes hero and first thing she does is jump into his bed. Uhm, no. Just – fucking – no! And the “hero” never once got this chick help. EVER. She had more trauma and abuse than anyone I had ever read before. I mean FFS there are people coming home from war with less damage and he was perfectly fine just leaving her as she was. IT just really, really bothered me. A lot.


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