"Coincidence is like a rubber band. Stretch it too far and it snaps. "- Roger Zelazny
Coincidence is a part of life. I’m sure just about everyone has a story to tell about running into someone or receiving a phone call from a friend they were just thinking about but hadn’t seen in years. It’s also a common tool for authors as a way for their characters to get together or to move the action along.
If a writer uses too many coincidences, the story does not ring true. Readers will shake their head in disgust and close the book. I've wondered for quite some time exactly how much coincidence is acceptable in fiction. Recently, I found my anwer.
An article, "The Law of Stackable Hamster," summed up this dilemma nicely. The following is quoted from the article:
"Within a scene in a story, a reader will suspend disbelief to a certain degree in order for the author to tell their tale; however, there is a limit to the number of coincidences you can create within a scene in the book. Or, as my brother explained in an alternate way of considering the number of coincidences to include, there is a limit to the number of hamsters you can stack. You can stack two hamsters and they will generally stay in place; three hamsters and the underlying structure is very wobbly and possibly won’t hold; and you can’t try four or more hamsters because there is no way to stack that many without it falling over right away. Thus, my brother created the Law of Stackable Hamsters in the field of creative writing."
I thought this was a great visual and it's something I’ll keep in mind each time I’m tempted to explain away a scene through coincidence. You can read the whole article here.
Since I have no clue how to segue to the next topic, I’m just going to chalk it up as a coincidence that two subjects met on my blog on the same day.
I have some good news for those people who, like me, didn’t participate in black Friday or cyber Monday and still have all their Christmas shopping to do. It is called The Spirit of the Season Catalog and it allows you to shop without leaving the comfort of your home. The catalog is full of wonderful gift ideas which includes books of all genres, works of art, handmade jewelry (where all the proceeds help support widows and orphans in Kenya) and assorted services.
Of course, my novel, The Ride, is listed (it's under Mainstream Fiction). It does make a wonderful gift. It’s also the perfect gift to give yourself for those times when you’ll need a break from the hustle and bustle of the season. It's easy. Scroll down the page until you see the picture of the cover (it looks exactly like this one) and click on the "Buy Now" button.
For anyone who would like to personalize the book, I’ll be happy to send you, FREE OF CHARGE, a signed bookplate. Simply email me (email@example.com) with the name of the person the book is to and anything else you’d like me to include on the bookplate. Or, you can simply request, "signature only." The free signed bookplate applies regardless of how you purchase the book (through the catalog, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, your local bookseller and so on).
Uh oh, looks like I’m stacking three hamsters.
However, I couldn’t leave without thanking Stephen Tremp for honoring me with his Awesome Maximus Award. If you haven’t visited Stephen’s Breakthrough Blogs for the Aspiring Author, where he is “Weaving together breakthroughs in physics and technology with greed, murder, and mayhem,” you might want to stop by. He discusses all sort sorts of interesting and fascinating theories including wormholes and black holes.
Now, I’m really done—no more hamsters today. Thanks for stopping by.
Tags: Zelazny, hamsters, Spirit of the Season Catalog, The Ride, Steven Tremp,