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J. K.

Use of coincidences as plot development

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I've noticed that many of my story ideas tend to rely on coincidence too often. Is any coincidence too much for a reader to accept, or is a single one acceptable? If George Lucas can get away with it, can we? (I mean, R2-D2 landing on just the right continent on just the right planet and getting bought by the son of the enemy he escaped?)

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It's cheap storytelling if done more than once in a story or series. Also, better not make it too coincidental.

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I've noticed that many of my story ideas tend to rely on coincidence too often. Is any coincidence too much for a reader to accept, or is a single one acceptable? If George Lucas can get away with it, can we? (I mean, R2-D2 landing on just the right continent on just the right planet and getting bought by the son of the enemy he escaped?)

Just saying, Tatooine has no continents. :P

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I've noticed that many of my story ideas tend to rely on coincidence too often. Is any coincidence too much for a reader to accept, or is a single one acceptable? If George Lucas can get away with it, can we? (I mean, R2-D2 landing on just the right continent on just the right planet and getting bought by the son of the enemy he escaped?)

That wasn't coincedence, it was the force re-balancing itself.
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One or two doesn't hurt things but it needs to lead to a greater purpose, things not being so coincidental, the big deception. A story based on just coincidences can get boring.

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I do storytelling with coincidences too, but there's more elaborate schemes behind those coincidences, and you know how certain kind of people tend to drift to certain kind of situations... plus if you dont tell every hidden agenda or unsaid things of the situations right away but let them "be there", behind the lines and chapters, they're a bit more than coincidences even if they may seem as ones. So if you got a red string of some kind about how to tie those things together, it's better, but you can also focus the story more around the individual situations, people and such instead of the plot. Just plot-wise, coincidences aren't the best thing to do if you leave them as ones.

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"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." Mark Twain.

I'm with Sean on this one.

The more you ask the reader to believe "just because," the less likely they will be to be transported inside your story. And that, in my opinion, is the goal of all storytellers. Or at least it should be.

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I think everyone can have their own goals in storytelling, plot can be a good one but it doesn't have to be the only one. You know how Lovecraft, for example, had his very unique touch to storytelling... there was good plot too if you ask me, but when you find your own "thing" there, and find more of it and become more comfortable with it, that can become the main point there. If it's like a good song with a consistent flow of feelings or such, then you can have that as a core line. And by consistent I dont mean steady but having a flow of it's own. Story is a good way to create that flow, but not the only one. Whatever suits you best is the best advice, refine it after you find that.

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One way to use a coincidence in a story is to let it appear as just that, i.e. a mere coincidence. Then in the final reveal, surprise the reader that it wasn't a coincidence at all. You can even make the entire story plot hinge on it.

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