Coincidences

How often have qualified editors written on manuscript submissions a firm, “No, too coincidental,” at an unexpected encounter between the hero and heroine, or between any two characters?

How often have our critique partners answered, “No way, unrealistic coincidence. It doesn’t occur in real life,” and shaken their heads at a particular scene.

Yet, I’m sure you have been faced with unbelievable events and said to yourself, “And here I thought it happens only in novels.”

Let me give you a few examples of the too coincidental meetings that an editor would have definitely rejected, except that they happened in real life.

My husband and I were on a cruise last month. As part of its itinerary, the ship docked in Akureyri, Iceland. To be honest, I’ve never heard about this place before. We were strolling down the streets to discover the city, when someone called my name. I turned around and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my neighbor who lives in my own building. Apparently she too has traveled to England and boarded the same ship. We hardly see each other in Florida but we met in Iceland!

I remember my father telling us how he was in Paris, France, for a month and he walked into a drugstore to buy toothpaste. Two of his female students from Boston were standing in front of an upright scale weighing themselves. They haven’t seen him coming and took off their boots for a lighter weight. Then they saw him, recognized him and blushed to their ears.

In my family the best coincidence is how I started dating my husband. I’ve seen him once at my cousins. He lived at the other end of the country in a remote town where I went once with a friend. That day, we walked and walked for hours. I was so tired, I sat on the sidewalk. Hardly two minutes later, he passed by, paused and opened big eyes. “You’re Joe’s cousin? What are you doing sitting on the sidewalk?” I jumped up, and the rest is history.

So what do you think of using coincidences in your books?

Did unrealistic coincidences happen in your life?

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16 Responses to Coincidences

  1. susanrhughes says:

    I’m sure astonishing coincidences happen all the time. I can’t think of any examples right now but I know it’s happened to me.

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  2. Joan Leacott says:

    HI Mona, When I was a very little girl, we lived on Melitta Street and played in Hillcrest Park. A month after my parents moved us to another town, a little boy moved into the same neighbourhood. Those little children grew up and started working in the Fabric Dept at a large downtown store. The young woman was mad for sewing. The young man wanted to meet women. And he did. My husband met me, and yesterday we celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. 🙂

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  3. stephaniequeen says:

    After about 15 years, I lost touch with my college roommate because she’d moved and I’d moved and we no longer had each other’s addresses or phone numbers. I felt pretty sad about it until one day I was down in Woods Hole, MA for a work conference and having dinner at a waterfront bar & grill and I heard what I could swear was a familiar voice. I turned around and there was my friend’s husband at the next table. He was in the Coast Guard and although they lived somewhere in Texas now, he was in Wood Hole on business too. Of course we exchanged contact info and laughed at the unbelievable coincidence of it all. I’ve remained in touch with my friend ever since and it’s now been… well… a LOT of years!
    Thanks for the post and the reminder about the miracle of coincidences, Mona!

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  4. Jill James says:

    Most people don’t believe in coincidences, they believe a bigger force is at work. I think that may be true. I think certain people are supposed to be in your life and each connection is a chance to latch on and hold on.

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  5. Carol says:

    I agree with Jill. I think we’re placed in the right place at the right time. Strange things do happen.

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  6. susanrhughes says:

    I’ve got one. My daughter had to take 100 of something to school. We decided on macaroni noodles. I dipped my hand into a large bag of macaroni and dumped the handful onto the table so we could count them out. How many noodles do you think there were in that handful? Exactly 100. I was amazed.

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  7. After I married, I went back home to California and had to run into a drugstore to get something and saw a woman in there that I knew immediately…from the seventh grade! We weren’t even in the town that we went to school in. That was pretty amazing.
    Then I was in Memphis, flying home and this man asked me if I was ‘the lady that owned the barn’–yes it was me, and when we got on the plane, he was my seatmate.
    In New Orleans, about three hours away from me, I met an RWA writer…we were both surprised to see each other so far away from our own homes.

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  8. leighmorgan1 says:

    This past Saturday my husband and I did a martial arts demonstration for authors at a local RWA meeting. One of the attendees’ husband knew someone in our martial arts community neither my husband or I had seen in more than a decade. (I had only met him once about 20yrs. ago. My husband has had more recent contact.) This was in Madison, WI. Yesterday, the Sunday after, we went to Harvest Fest in Milwaukee at the State Fair Grounds. I wanted to go to the gem show there. As we were waiting in line discussing whether it was worth the $8 a piece ticket price, a man I didn’t recognize came up to me and gave me a free ticket. It was the man we were talking about the day before. Coincidences happen all the time ~ it could just be that. I think sometimes we find what we seek.

    Great post.

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  9. Joan Reeves says:

    Coincidence is a part of life. I like this quote, the origin of which is unknown: “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

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