I like card games, particularly Magic: the Gathering, because they're a nice mixture of strategy and luck. I don't like chess because it's pure strategy, and I don't like bingo because it's pure luck (this analogy is an oversimplification).

For a piece of fiction, how does a writer introduce an element of random circumstance without it ultimately seeming contrived?

1 Answer 1

  1. Finding the sword of Godric Gryffindor would have been a DeM had the individual elements of that type of event not been introduced before hand.

  2. Luke (a farm boy who has never flown a space ship) firing the killing shot at the Death Star is a DeM, except that the elements are introduced beforehand. (a. He's got the force, b. they have the plans, c. R2 probably helps out, d. he misses a few times, e. his buddy Han helps out too.)

Many solutions would be DeM except that all the pieces are introduced first in believable ways.

  1. The only reason a piano falling on the villain is a DeM ... is because, in that scenario, the popularity of rooftop piano bars hasn't been established, nor has the earthquake-prone nature of the environment.

And that's how you do it. For the event you are considering, establish the points to the event before hand. It's a puzzle - you are writing a puzzle. Give all the pieces to the reader. Do it in a way that the reader doesn't necessarily see how they go together, except in hindsight. Then when you provide the solution, they smack their heads.


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