Why outrageous coincidences always don’t work in stories

The other day I was talking to a friend. She told this outrageous story about a person who went to a new dentist and on the counter of the hygienist was her cousin. The connection was totally random.
That got me thinking about those really odd coincidences that happen in real life, like walking into a college friend on a New York City street or that a one friend knows another but there is no direct correlation. And I’m sure there are even wilder ones.
The reason many coincidences are unbelievable in a story is because we don’t believe them when they happen to us.


About 3by3 writing method

The author of 12 books, half of them textbooks, two novels and three self help. has struggled with his challenges of completion, distractions, plotting and writers block. Finally after getting stopped I stopped and analyzed what was going on and spent a lot of introspection, research and reading trying to locate the source of these issues. The result of was the 3by3 writing method - a three step program to start and then continue the process of completing a story all the way to publication.
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4 Responses to Why outrageous coincidences always don’t work in stories

  1. What can be truly mystifying for writers, especially those who are just starting out, is how writing something that is Just Like! reality often falls flat on the page. Outrageous coincidences is a good example of that. It takes practice to discover how to weave something that feels realistic to the reader but is actually not Just Like! reality.

  2. frasersherman says:

    I think it can work if it’s at the start of your story. You run into your old college friend, he gets murdered and you’re enmeshed in whatever’s going on. It’s later in the story that coincidence gets suspicious.

    • The story teller has to use coincidences to make any tale work. So often it is the collision of people and their resulting conflicts that make a story interesting. However, the real life coincidences that everyone has, and then say OMG its unreal, often come across as unreal in a story.

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