How much convenience can you stand?

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Voight-Kampff
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How much convenience can you stand?

#1 Post by Voight-Kampff » Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:24 am

Something I find myself growing increasingly intolerant of these days are coincidences in stories.

I didn't think much of them until giving some thought to the structure of VNs. Unlike other formats, VNs tend to follow the daily exploits of the protagonist. So there's usually very little opportunity to "cut" to a different perspective or to events happening outside of the protagonist's knowledge. And typically the protagonist interacts with just a handful of core characters.

Consequently, it seems like a protagonist "just so happens" to always run into one or more of those core characters every day - day after day.

I understand the need for that, since those characters drive the story forward. And obviously one doesn't want to write "days" worth of boring, mundane tasks as the protagonist goes from one important event to the next.

But, I dunno...Just how much coincidence can a person stand in one's stories before it snaps one out and makes one go, "Um, yeah...that's just a little TOO convenient"?

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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#2 Post by Shiiro_lazy » Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:55 am

Coincidences like bumping into another character of meeting them by accident in a shop or something is not a convenience that I mind much. If happens only once or twice, I'm okay with it. More than that... It's fucking annoying. Makes you want to bang your head on the PC screen or something. :evil:

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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#3 Post by this_barb » Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:07 am

Voight-Kampff wrote:Something I find myself growing increasingly intolerant of these days are coincidences in stories.

I didn't think much of them until giving some thought to the structure of VNs. Unlike other formats, VNs tend to follow the daily exploits of the protagonist. So there's usually very little opportunity to "cut" to a different perspective or to events happening outside of the protagonist's knowledge. And typically the protagonist interacts with just a handful of core characters.

Consequently, it seems like a protagonist "just so happens" to always run into one or more of those core characters every day - day after day.

I understand the need for that, since those characters drive the story forward. And obviously one doesn't want to write "days" worth of boring, mundane tasks as the protagonist goes from one important event to the next.

But, I dunno...Just how much coincidence can a person stand in one's stories before it snaps one out and makes one go, "Um, yeah...that's just a little TOO convenient"?
If by coincidence you mean that the love interest of the protagonist somehow gets a job at his favorite bakery that he goes to every day or that the protagonist forgets his notebook at school and his love interest is, for one reason or another, is by herself at a bus stop conveniently located en-route to the school, then, yes, these things really erode my interest in a story. Another reason I hate harem anime.

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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#4 Post by JinzouTamashii » Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:50 am

What if it's not a coincidence? What if a causal agency is manipulating you or you're changing the world around you somehow to trigger those events? 「(゚ペ) 
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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#5 Post by Voight-Kampff » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:00 pm

If by coincidence you mean that the love interest of the protagonist somehow gets a job at his favorite bakery that he goes to every day or that the protagonist forgets his notebook at school and his love interest is, for one reason or another, is by herself at a bus stop conveniently located en-route to the school, then, yes, these things really erode my interest in a story.
:lol:

Okay, good. At least I'm not the only one getting jolted out of stories by this.
What if it's not a coincidence? What if a causal agency is manipulating you or you're changing the world around you somehow to trigger those events?
You know what? That sounds like a good idea for a story. Yeah, some sort of mystery / conspiracy story.

Actually, it kinda reminds me of Welcome to the NHK - which if anyone here hasn't seen it - involves people trying to create their own galge. Um, in addition to dealing with severe mental problems. It's a fun romp. :lol:

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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#6 Post by JinzouTamashii » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:02 pm

Voight-Kampff wrote:You know what? That sounds like a good idea for a story. Yeah, some sort of mystery / conspiracy story.

Actually, it kinda reminds me of Welcome to the NHK - which if anyone here hasn't seen it - involves people trying to create their own galge. Um, in addition to dealing with severe mental problems. It's a fun romp. :lol:
Heads-up: I'm already doing it...

But I'll say the same thing I always say: good ideas are not copyrighted. Just because all stories of love, hope, drama, war, mystery, and passion have been told does not mean they should not be told again. They grow and undergo a sea-change with each retelling.

I've read NHK. I'm not sure if it's the same thing, exactly...

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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#7 Post by Voight-Kampff » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:23 pm

JinzouTamashii wrote:That "moe" creation was hideous, わはは.
Oh, the, uh...slickly, alien, ghost, kitsune, maid, reincarnated childhood friend character?

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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#8 Post by PrettySammy09 » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:24 pm

Well I kinda get where you're coming from.

It's my philosophy that in a story, you get one coincidence. Only one. After all, if your character doesn't happen to meet the girl of his dreams at the grocery store one day, then you don't really have a story, now do you? But if your character then runs into the girl seven or eight more times without ever asking for her name or number,then that's just grating and makes the audience go "really? Really now?"

Then again, if the setting's something like a school or a work place then it would make sense that you'd run into the same people over and over again. I don't know if that would qualify as a "coincidence"?

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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#9 Post by Wintermoon » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:37 pm

Life is full of coincidences. Strip away the tedium of boring everyday existence and the meaningless randomness, and it's pretty much all coincidences.

And depending on the setting, running into the same characters over and over again may not even qualify as a coincidence. It may just a natural daily occurrence.

Fiction has to limit its use of coincidences because it is bound by stricter rules than reality. One of these rules is that a coincidence never resolves the protagonist's problem(s). It may create problems for the protagonist, it may resolve the antagonist's problems, it may even provide the protagonist the opportunity to resolve her problems. However, in the end the protagonist always resolves her problems by her own effort.

Also, truly improbable coincidences in fiction are best limited to the beginning of the story.

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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#10 Post by oiseau » Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:18 pm

I don't mind coincidences in stories so much, as long as they aren't too overly outrageous. Like, don't have a character on an epic quest for some rare jewel that he could use to save his dying grandmother and then he conveniently finds it in the next town without so much as a struggle. "Aha, it was under this tree the whole time." The end - so much for rarity. Where's the conflict and excitement? It's just kind of like, "seriously?"

I can see how running into a love interest at every turn could be annoying, too, but as long as the writing is good and it isn't too farfetched, I don't have too much of a problem with that. A lot of stories involve coincidences on some level, anyway.
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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#11 Post by adrix89 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 1:48 am

Its not a coincidence!
The protagonist just willed it into existence using unforeseen jutsu
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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#12 Post by Animality » Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:51 am

Convenient coincidences become a little too convenient for me to put up with when there is more than 3 or 4 of them. Bigger coincidences immediately annoy me though.
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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#13 Post by JinzouTamashii » Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:19 pm

I thought those were called plot twists... first popularized by the cult sleeper hit Citizen Kane.
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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#14 Post by LVUER » Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:32 am

No, it isn't coincidences. It's ... the power of unseen hand. The hand of some mighty beings called ... Authors ^_^

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Re: How much convenience can you stand?

#15 Post by AllegroDiRossi » Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:44 am

I like a certain amount of serendipity in reading.
After all, not everything can or should appear perfectly orchestrated.
However I do have to echo the previous sentiments that such coincidences should be few and far between.
As an addendum to that, it is also important that such coincidences do not provide resolution to issues of the plot.

I've seen a bit too many of these 'coincidences' that save the character,
and I usually find myself wanting to beret the author and tell them their real name:
deus ex machina...
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