Rule #19

Life is full of co-wink-a-dinks.

But your fiction shouldn’t be.

I’d like to wax poetic about all the times I’ve seen this done and that I’ve even done in my writing (yes, I’m lazy), but NaNoWriMo is calling. Heed the Pixar-gods:


Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

Keep writing.


9 thoughts on “Rule #19

  1. This is one I’ve seen elsewhere but it’s no less useful for that. It’s one of the rules I make frequent use of, both when writing and when revising (and testing) my prose.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Sometimes it is hard to recognize that you are using a coincidence to get your characters out of a bind. I used to dress mine up in crazy costumes, like having a gaggle of witches show up out of the blue and provide assistance! Cracks me up when I think about it. I just hope that now, I can at least recognize when I’m doing it, and change it before I embarrass myself in front of the world. 😮

    1. We are all guilty of it. And a first draft is usually littered with them. I try to work them out in my outline, but as I write, trying desperately to get the story out, I slip in a few hokey reasons why or how the prince gets saved. Editing is definitely the time to flesh out that plot and get rid of those coincidents.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. like having a gaggle of witches show up out of the blue and provide assistance!

    Ah yes, the dreaded Deus ex Machina! I’m sure we all went through that phase just as we went through the “and it was all a dream” phase in our writing. Good that we can always look back and see the errors we made.

    1. Ha! Not sure I see the errors of all my ways, but I am happy to say I don’t think I’ve done the “and it was all a dream” thing – yet! But I have done the thing where characters talk about the history of their world and present well known facts that are obviously said to inform the reader and no one else. And then had someone call it out on Flogging the Quill. :/

      1. I think that’s a much easier trap to fall into. I’m currently reading a commission from where the writer has handled exposition and back story perfectly.

  3. My take on this is that, if you find yourself relying on coincidence, you haven’t thought deeply enough about your characters and/or plot. Once you find a stronger motive, the coincidence will no longer be necessary.

    1. Very true. And I think that’s why coincidences show up so much in first drafts or new writer’s work – because we just haven’t fleshed out the story enough. The trick is, I believe, to recognize the coincidences and edit them out.


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