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Does this come off as a coincidence in my plot and can I fix it? (1 Viewer)

ironpony

Senior Member
For my story, in the beginning in the inciting incident, the main character is a cop who is on patrol who spots some suspicious activity and decides to take a closer look, but finds out something big is going down calls for back, and it all leads to chase, etc. One of the villains is arrested by the MC, and the rest get away.

However, I am told that it comes off as a coincidence or a convenience, beacause the MC happened to be at right place, at the right time, so the rest of the plot can happen, and it makes him more of a passive character to open him with as a result.

If this is so, is there a way I can make it less coincidental and convenient, and more natural perhaps? Thanks for any advice on it! I really appreciate it!
 

ironpony

Senior Member
I could but does that make all the difference though, if one person calls the police as opposed to a patrol car being there? If it makes all the difference than I can write it that way. How long would it take the cop to get there if he is called though? Since it's a chase, if a person sees it and calls 911, by the time the cop gets to where he/she called from, the perps would be gone then, wouldn't they?
 

LCLee

Financial Supporter
I've received comments like that. Oh, that was too convenient that an FBI agent was willing to work with them. And no matter how you shade it, the results are the same.
Like they say ...Fiction should make sense, reality not so much.. If your MC only catches one of them, where is the convince in that? Write your story and let more than a few decide. I know from past stories you have skills. Write on……
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
It seems like an easy thing to ask a cop, maybe. They could have sent in the closest guy on patrol. I’m not sure that it bothers me or not to have him notice... but remember I’m the one who wants him to have a background with gangs. Is this the gang stuff? He could be keeping an eye on them so to speak?
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay. It's just that because of the rest of the plot, there is no way the police would know who any of them are at this point in the story though. I need the police to know the what, which is the crime that happened, and I need one of the to be caught, but I don't want the police to know who any of them are though. If that's possible, without it coming off as a convenient coincidence?
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Yeah, he was the one on patrol who was nearest. Someone called in. I think it can be that simple. Or he could be out there watching some other development and that all happened. I’m not sure that it bothers me... but I’m not a cop. A cop would know.
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
A cop with good instincts catches a lot of badguys exactly the way you describe. They know when to look where and for who. I know a retired cop who would say to himself "If I were a crook..."
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay, that makes sense. Well I was told it was a coincidence that the cop happened to be in the right place, at the right time to be able to look was the problem, not the looking itself.
 

Kehlida

Senior Member
In theory, you could argue that if your cop was not at the scene, you would not have a story to tell. Or it happened to be that cop who was thrust into the story because they ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time and turned it around for themselves.

If it was a different cop on scene, then would the story be about them? There are many different routes this could go, and your cop being in the area is plausible.

Plenty of real stories exist about off duty or undercover cops just going about their day at a roadside store when someone pulls a gun and tries to hold up the cashier only to get apprehended on scene. Convenient? Sure. A coincidence? Maybe. Possible? Absolutely.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
In theory, you could argue that if your cop was not at the scene, you would not have a story to tell. Or it happened to be that cop who was thrust into the story because they ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time and turned it around for themselves.

If it was a different cop on scene, then would the story be about them? There are many different routes this could go, and your cop being in the area is plausible.

Plenty of real stories exist about off duty or undercover cops just going about their day at a roadside store when someone pulls a gun and tries to hold up the cashier only to get apprehended on scene. Convenient? Sure. A coincidence? Maybe. Possible? Absolutely.

Oh okay that's true. Well, perhaps that the thing that makes it more of a coincidence in mine, is that the crime that is happening involves a crooked cop, so it's more of a coincidence in that sense, that what are the odds the MC would be in the right place and time, to witness a crime that a crooked cop, who he works in the same building with, is there also... He doesn't see the crooked cop from his POV, since I don't want to him find this till later, but maybe that makes it a bigger coincidence, or convenience to swallow maybe.
 

Kensa

Senior Member
Being at the right place at the right time happens in real life, too. Isn't it the purpose of patrol, after all ?

I think I'd try to find a detail in the scene everyone would see but only a good cop would understand.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay thanks for the advice! Well I wrote it so that the cop spots guys in masks chasing another guy having just escaped from a house a few meters away and the cop spots a broken window in the house and investigates after he looses them in the chase. But I was told by a couple of readers so far that he feels that he was in the right place at the right time because he was right near the house though.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
However, I am told that it comes off as a coincidence or a convenience, beacause the MC happened to be at right place, at the right time, so the rest of the plot can happen, and it makes him more of a passive character to open him with as a result.

This is the oldest complaints in the book and makes absolutely no sense. Don't take any notice. You've chosen the character BECAUSE this happened to them. Why pick a character that needs forcing into this situation?
 

Kensa

Senior Member
Oh okay thanks for the advice! Well I wrote it so that the cop spots guys in masks chasing another guy having just escaped from a house a few meters away and the cop spots a broken window in the house and investigates after he looses them in the chase. But I was told by a couple of readers so far that he feels that he was in the right place at the right time because he was right near the house though.

Sounds good to me.

I was wondering why I would think the coincidence is 'too much'. The only reason I found is that, maybe, what brought your MC here (the patrol) is not developed enough?
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay then. Well I wrote it from the villains point of view so as the villains break out into chasing a supporting character, after things go wrong, they come across a police patrol nearby in the chase. So I wrote it from the villains point of view. I could write it from the MC's point of view as well, while on patrol, but thought if I did that, it might come off as even more coincidental though.
 

Kensa

Senior Member
Ah, okay... It's difficult to judge without reading the whole thing.
If you think your text works as it is, maybe you should just ignore the complaint, like TheMightyAz said.
 

Xander416

Senior Member
Being at the right place at the right time happens in real life, too. Isn't it the purpose of patrol, after all ?
A couple weeks ago I hit a deer with my car, made a softball-sized dent in my bumper. If I had left my house even a minute earlier or later, I most likely wouldn't have even seen that deer, much less hit it. I didn't set out to run over a deer that day and the deer surely didn't plan to be hit by an 5900 lb Toyota traveling at 40 MPH. It was a case of right place at the right time, just as you say.

So, Ironpony, I'm not sure why the idea of Right Place at the Right Time seems so unlikely. As has been stated, cops witness crimes while on patrol all the time. Maybe it would be a bit much if your MC witnessed the crime, saw a UFO, ran over Bigfoot, and met Bruce Willis all at the same time, but just being there when the crime happens is perfectly believable. I'm wondering if your test readers just have ridiculously bad OCD or something to make them look for meaning in every little thing.
 

FrancisD

Senior Member
Coincidence is often what creates a good story. A plot or intrigue, something out of the ordinary happens because of a quirk of fate like right place right/wrong time. Besides the MC is a cop, they are trained to notice stuff that others miss, they are trained to look for the subtle tell, things that trigger instincts honed by experience. From your description I would move on.
 
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ironpony

Senior Member
Thank you very much for the points made. Good points. I think maybe the readers so far see it as convenience maybe because the police happen to stumble onto the crime by accident and get a luck break, rather than being forced to use more challenging investigation methods perhaps.
 
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