Story Depends on Causality

According to George Saunders, the fundamental unit of storytelling is a kind of call and response. The author creates an expectation or question in the reader's mind, and then must respond to those expectations or questions. The most important skill of a writer—besides a willingness to revise—is to suggest that there is causality between events in a story. That is, a story must suggest that each event follows from an event that came before.

This is reminiscent of the axiom (from Nabokov?) that "The queen died, then the king died" is a not a story, but "The queen died, then the king died of grief" is.



Saunders, George. Swim in a Pond in the Rain, A: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life. New York: Random House of Canada, 2020.