Twitter is awash with writers tweeting thoughts, adages, self-help sayings and writing “rules.” Some are useful, some tiresome. This one got tweeted into my timeline the other day:
“Number one rule for fiction: Coincidence can be used to worsen a character’s predicament, but never to solve his problems.”
Never having seen it before, I googled it. Many others have used it. Although that writer tweeted it as if it were his thought (and has thus far got some 30 odd retweets with it), it was not his original thought.
Fellow writers, here’s a “rule” we should definitely live by: Appropriating someone else’s original thought and not citing that original source is called “plagiarism,” and we should NOT be plagiarists. (That Twitter may not have enough space to give credit is immaterial. One has to find a way to cite the source, some way, somehow. I won’t “out” the plagiarist tweet here. I’m not interested in an online fight. He has some 100,000 Twitter followers. Although, it being Twitter, one can’t be entirely sure how many of those are actually real people either.)
The quote’s originator seems to be – but I can’t be entirely sure of this and I’m not interested enough to keep digging – Vivian Vande Velde (whom I’d never heard of before).
At first glance, it seems insightful. Upon reflection, though, I realized that certainly wouldn’t be my “first rule.” Indeed, it wouldn’t be one of my “rules” at all.
In fact, I laughed momentarily when the word “rules” in that context prompted my mind to recall the film Grease. Remember the line from the tough-guy opponent just before the start of the race with Danny Zuko? He said (something like), “The rules are, there ain’t no rules.”
I wouldn’t go nearly that far. When writing fiction, even with spell and grammar check, you still do have to be able to spell and compose a sentence generally at least.
My view is a bit different: Number one rule for fiction: Anything that can happen in real life can happen in fiction.
A small caveat: I don’t know if that’s my “number one,” but you get my point I’m sure.
Have a good weekend, wherever you are in the world. 🙂
UPDATE: To be clear, I’m not claiming my “thought” there on fiction is profoundly original. I’m sure others have long thought much the same thing, too. 😉