Cause and Effect Paragraphs

In creative writing, it is important to not only write what happened, but also why it happened. If you write that your main character, Johnny, is crying, a reader is going to wonder why he is crying, for example. By writing that he is crying, you are trying to make a particular point, and you can express this point easily with the use of effective cause and effect paragraphs.

Format of cause and effect paragraphs

While the content of cause and effect paragraphs can vary wildly, they all follow a similar, basic format.

  1. A topic sentence, where you state the main idea of the paragraph. "Johnny buried his head in his hands and cried for several minutes straight."

  2. After the topic sentence, the writer may include a focusing, or prediction sentence, like "He did this for several reasons." You may choose to include this or to leave it out, but it can create a sense of anticipation for the reader.

  3. Supporting statements should always come next. This is where you explain why Johnny was crying. "First, he had stubbed his toe after getting out of bed. Then, his girlfriend had broken up with him through a text message. Finally, he had discovered there were no waffles left in the freezer."

  4. The paragraph should end with a conclusion sentence, summing up what the reader should take away from the paragraph. "These events made it the worst morning of his life, and that's why he just couldn't stop crying."

Sample topics for cause and effect paragraphs

If you're looking to learn how to write cause and effect paragraphs, or just get your creativity flowing, then you might want to try writing some paragraphs using the following prompts.

  • Write how a character has been affected by his or her parents.
  • Explore why a character has a crippling fear of clowns.
  • Explain why a character has run away from home.
  • Why might Halloween be more fun for adults than for children?
  • Why might Christmas be more fun for children than for adults?
  • Write about how a character's life might change if he or she is unemployed for several months.
  • Is baseball still the national pastime, or has a new activity taken its place? Explain your reasoning.

Try to use the cause and effect paragraph format for each prompt you choose to write about, but experiment using different transitions between the sentences. "Gary's father left when he was a boy, so he has trouble trusting people," has a different effect than "Gary has trouble trusting people. This is because his father left when he was a boy".

Cause and effect paragraphs are an essential writing skill, because they help explain to the reader why certain things are happening. Practice writing these types of paragraphs to make your creative writing even more effective.

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