The Truth about Coincidence in Fiction
The definitions for coincidence are: 1) a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent casual connection; and 2) correspondence in nature or in time of occurrence.
By its very meaning, coincidence is not something that happens every day. If it did occur daily, we would take it for granted and think it nothing remarkable.
Therefore, when an author brings in events or circumstances that seem remarkable in nature, the imagination of the reader could be stretched to the point that they no longer see it as remarkable, but implausible.
All uses of coincidence, whether small or large, should be reviewed and weighed carefully by the author. A reader is more likely to accept the wonderful and imaginative worlds of Spec Fiction before they will accept some of the following situations in a novel outside that genre. The following are examples of coincidence in fiction:
- A character is thinking of another character, and lo and behold, that character being thought of enters the scene or calls on the phone or sends an e-mail, a text, or a direct message on social media. The author would be better served by layering in the fact that the character stops by often, sends e-mails, texts, or direct messages on social media, so that the reader can reasonable expect the person will act at such a time as needed.
- A character is thinking of something and uses a word or two that sets that thought or spoken idea apart. Enter another character who uses the same words or thinks the same thoughts. This situation can be made more believable for the reader if the author would give the second character a synonymous word or phrase that doesn’t smack of ESP.
- An angel or a rescuer shows up right when they are needed with no indication of how that person knew trouble was afoot. Giving a hint of an angelic being or layering in a rescuer’s journey to where the individual needs help, especially if that character is a hero or heroine, will help make this situation more believable. In regard to the rescuer’s journey, throwing in conflict to keep the rescuer at bay only adds conflict to the novel, and every novel, no matter the genre is made better by conflict.
- A break in the weather, a change in conditions, a much needed occurrence happening at the right time. This type of sudden change waters down the suspense. The author would be better served by keeping the situation and using it to its fullest potential to stretch out the tension for the reader.
- Right when a character needs a plot device, it is suddenly on hand. This is the equivalent to the gun in the drawer. If the reader has not seen the gun in the drawer prior to its necessity, the gun does not exist for the reader. Therefore, when the gun is produced by the character, reality has been stretched and the bond broken between the reader and the stoyr. Let the reader know the gun is in the drawer before it is required.
These are only a few of the examples that bring in unwarranted consequences. When layered in correctly, the coincidental events will read less like high fancy and more like a believable occurrences.
Fay Lamb is an editor, writing coach, and author, whose emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. With the release of Everybody’s Broken, three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, which also includes Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on two Christmas novella projects: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, and A Ruby Christmas, and the Write Integrity Press romance novella series, which includes A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Future releases from Fay are: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind series.
Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.