Sometimes, the best things to happen are the ones that you don’t see coming. Or the ones that look positively unpleasant. Or are arriving far too soon, surely.
These things have tumbled on top of each other for me lately, and while my actual writing may have staggered to a halt because of them, it’s been great.
People may be skeptical of coincidences, but truth is stranger than fiction. Just when I was starting to disparity about not being able to find a fluffy pet the dogs would be able to survive, there is a litter of rabbits born to a friend. When I get an extension on my journalism assignment, I get inundated with responses when there had been deafening silence beforehand. I joke about our family motto not really applying to me, and find a loose dog on my way to catch the train. This stuff seriously happens to me.
Coincidence can happen to characters, and that can be a good thing. I’ve noticed when reading that one if my pet irritants is when a reasonable coincidence feels like an act of external meaning. Regardless of genre, even if it is the act if a god, like the Chalion books, I prefer to have an acceptance of coincidence rather than an explanation of it. Unless the character is trying to justify events, that’s perfectly acceptable. When the narrator chimes in with some ‘was it meant to be?’ nonsense, I feel like the grown up at the pantomime who can see the bad guy sneaking up on the oblivious good guy. And while that’s fun sometimes, I’d prefer the characters to offer me a suggestion than be reminded of the narrative voice.
How do you balance the coincidental with the conspiracy? I have a handy rule of thumb picked up from my military history minded friend. Once is coincidence, twice is suspicious, three times is enemy action.
So, now I just have to work out if my new friend is a once, twice, or thrice!