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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