Getting caught up in it

In this snippet, the narrator doesn't do anything, specifically.

Instead they are caught up in an event that has an impact on them.

The accident had happened so fast. One minute I'd been sitting in Aunty Viv's sedan, everything normal. Then I'd heard the four-wheel drive ploughing through the bushes as it tore down the embankment. I'd looked up to see it hurtling at me, and … nothing. I didn't remember the actual dying part.

Situation + then, as, & and

This snippet uses a series of connectors to create the cause and effect chain. 

  • It sets up an ordinary situation 'then' interrupts it: they were sitting in a sedan, then a 4WD crashed into them.
  • It uses 'as' to create parallel action, adding detail to the scene: ploughing through bushes as it tore down the embankment.
  • It uses 'and' to connect to the consequences: the car crashed and... she blacked out.

The first sentence breaks the linear flow of time. The snippet is a flashback, and the first sentence is sending us back in time to talk about the accident. 

You can choose whether or not you want to do something similar in your response.

It was just another night in the lab, until it wasn't. One minute Elena had been taking out the rubbish from the kitchen, because nobody else was going to. Then she'd seen two guys dressed like cleaners, but obviously not cleaners, swipe into C12 as the night security guard stood in the courtyard ostentatiously looking the other way through a cloud of vape smoke. Two minutes later the men wheeled a $70k autosampler on a trolley out of the lab, across the carpark, into a van, and Elena, astonished, wondered if she'd just witnessed a crime.

The striker came out of nowhere. One minute Tom had been running the ball across the midfield, with long strides, building up speed, chasing a clean break. Then he saw a flash of blue in the corner of his left eye as their striker came WAY out of position to tackle him. Tom flung his hands out, tried to pivot right, and… crunch. The striker wiped him out.

Focus on a character who is caught up in a situation external to them:

  • Open with a summary statement, if you like.
  • Set up the situation.
  • Introduce the disruption with 'then'.
  • Describe something happening simultaneously using 'as'.
  • Link to a consequence with 'and'.
  • Describe the consequence as explicitly or vaguely as you like.
Describe someone caught up in a situation, using 'then', 'as', 'and'.

We're going to stop highlighting snippets in this way through the rest of the lesson, and this snippet is a good example of why.

There are actually two cause and effect loops in this snippet:

  • Narrator hears truck, so she looks up.
  • Truck crashes into sedan, so narrator dies.

Highlighting each loop separately becomes needlessly fussy and confusing, while combining loops into bigger loops like we do here can also be confusing.

So in the next few activities we're going to focus on the connectors.