How Convenient! Contrived Coincidences

This post, by Roni Loren, originally appeared on her blog on 6/22/11.

A while back I talked about the TSTL character in a Lifetime movie I was watching.  Well, unfortunately (or fortunately–considering it provided fodder for two blog posts), the crappy plot devices did not end there.  The You’ve-Got-To-Be-Freaking-Kidding-Me moments continued.  But this time in the form of contrived coincidences.

Contrived Coincidence describes a highly improbable occurrence in a story which is required by the plot, but which has absolutely no outward justification

When we left our heroine in the previous post, she was under suspicion for murder.  So, she had decided the best course of action was to break in and search the crime scene (leaving DNA-laden hair and fingerprints in her wake no doubt).  Well, she doesn’t find much over there (although the killer does stop in the house briefly–at the exact time she’s there–she hides under the bed, seeing only his feet).  But, that my friends, is not even the silliest coincidence.

Our heroine goes on and continues her search for evidence in different places, but doesn’t turn up much.  However, she strikes up a friendship with the local coffee barista who tells her how every townie takes his or her coffee.  Well, fast forward, and Ms. Brilliant is being followed all around town by a mysterious black mustang (the car, not the horse, although that would have been better).  Because that’s what killers do, they show you their car and follow you in broad daylight.  But anyhoo, a few days later her own car is vandalized and she needs to go buy another vehicle.

Well, lo and behold, as she’s searching the used car lot, she happens upon what?  You got it.  The black mustang that’s been following her.  Oh, and what’s that you say Mr. Salesman?  The car was just dropped off yesterday and IT HASN’T BEEN CLEANED YET!  Well, hot damn!

So she buys the car and what is laying neatly in the floorboard of the car?  A receipt for coffee with the very order of one of the people the barista told her about.  Killer identified!

Seriously.  I’m. Not. Kidding.  That’s how they wrapped this thing up.


Read the rest of the post for some concrete tips on how to avoid contrivances and coincidences in your writing on Roni Loren‘s blog.

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