Monday, August 31, 2009

Coincidence or not?

I am reading a book now by a well established and highly respected author. It is fairly pulpy (in a good way) and I am struck by how casually circumstances pile up by sheer coincidence to help move the plot along. I always second-guess myself while writing, always striving for "realism". This may be foolish in the crime genre.
I myself don't mind a little artistic license to help a story along. An element of the fantastic is a good thing, I think. If this story wasn't spurred on by some amazing happenings then why write it down? For example, few stories are written about a caper gone right, only one gone horribly wrong. So, what of the blind luck that moves a book along from plot point to plot point? How forgiving are you? I give authors a lot of leeway, more than I give myself. I constantly revise to make things less dependent on coincidence. Organic and true are my mantras.
Should I loosen the reins a bit? It certainly would make things easier. And when a writer of renown and a forty-year career can get away with it, why not me? Ah, there's the rub. I think established writers are given a pass on that sort of thing. Maybe it's just the fact that a highly entertaining book can trump some wild coincidence but I think people scrutinize freshman authors much more over style and plot devices. It's not a bad thing. Having readers be on guard with a finely tuned BS detector is not a bad thing. But getting readers to go along with some suspect plot workings just because you are telling them one hell of a yarn would be even better!

1 comment:

Dana King said...

You're right: established authors can get away with a lot of things a newbie can't. As for me, I'm always conscious of how much disbelief has to be suspended, and there are points I won't go past. Great writing helps, but at some point I'll give up n the story and say I'm just reading for the writing.

Comic fiction gets much more of a pass. A lot can be gotten away with if the coincidence is played for laughs. And is actually funny. Carl Hiaasen comes to mind.