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On coincidence
The Dime
wilowisp
The chain of events in a story is a delicate thing to manage, and woefully easy for some authors to ignore.  Too much coincidence, and the characters lack any sense of agency within the tale.  Too much precision in cause-and-effect, and the characters lack vulnerability to chance and no longer seem like real people.  And perhaps in this balancing act, some personal preference can determine a variance in a happy medium.  But it is something I am keenly aware of when reading and when writing.

Now I am in a book with a 'perfect' main character - another peeve of mine.  This main character is of course, the brightest, smartest, youngest, wisest, most powerful in all the land.  Plenty of stories use this trope, but to better effect, because they also incorporate flaws into the character.  The one I am journeying with now - he might have flaws, but they are never discussed.  His struggles are never because of his conflict with the world, but because of the worlds conflict UPON him.  It's not a very empathetic journey that we are on.

And then we come to a pivotal scene, in which he is faced with certain doom.  How does he escape this?  Well, if I am being brought along on this 'child savant' ride, I would expect some of these amazing gifts to be the reason our hero lives to tell his tale.  But no, it is random happenstance, an eternal evil distracted at the right moment, that allows this hero to escape with his life.  Ugh.

There are plenty of other ways that would have made some of these events more palatable.  A favored twist of mine is that it is IN the coincidence that the story begins.  The child is a fully realized human being, and then is faced with certain doom, but is saved by some happenstance.  It is in surviving the doom, or the method of rescue, that the special skills are gained.  This means that the story progresses more organically from a single event, rather than being a series of unrelated 'happenings' that our hero just goes through.

Yes, there are some people who have everything in this world, and luck favors them as well.  Event to event, there is no connection or struggle or flaw to face.  Sometimes the brightest survive by several instances of luck, instead of the intelligence they were gifted with.  But these aren't STORIES.  They are individual ocurrences.  They don't satisfy the storyteller in me.
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