Dienstag, 11. Juni 2013

Life is a bad writer



Events in my life or my friends' lives often happen in a way that if you wrote them down as fiction readers would roll their eyes and go, "Yeah, sure! What are the odds of that happening?!". They would think I'm a bad writer because the timing of usually incidental events is just too constructed. Here are examples of real life events that I can vouch for happened exactly like this. I'll just change the names of people involved.

1 Bad timing

Anne and Sue are best friends, Jack and Fred are mates, too. They are all part of a group of friends. Sue is going out with Jack and Anne is going out with Fred. One day, Anne and Jack are at Sue's house and Anne offers Jack a ride home as she passes his place anyway. They have a minor car accident (her wing mirror is ripped off, nothing bad happens) on the way and she is very upset. Jack comforts her. One thing leads to another...
Some time before Anne has had a row with her boyfriend Fred. He is in the army and only comes home on weekends. They haven't spoken since the row and she is pretty mad at him as he behaved like a jerk. In the meantime he has realized he behaved like a prick and is very sorry. He decides to tell her so.
The morning after the accident, the doorbell goes at Anne's place. She opens. It's Fred with a huge bunch of roses trying to say he is sorry. Anne is very nervous and tries to get him to leave. She says they'll talk later. Just when he's about to leave, he detects a pair of shoes next to the door. 
"Hang on...aren't those Jack's shoes???"
You can all imagine how the story went from there. What a mess!

If I wrote this in a romantic comedy, people would certainly think it is far too contructed. It really happened to Sue, Anne, Jack and Fred. It's a miracle Sue and Anne are still friends to the present day though. ;-)

2 The cheater

Jane is madly in love with her new boyfriend Sean. She's 18 and you know how 18-year-olds in love can be if it's still very fresh. Her friend Carolyn is dating Sean's best friend Tom. Their relationship is also rather new, so they are both still very clingy and don't want to leave their boyfriends for even a weekend. 
Carolyn and Jane both have to leave for a theatre workshop over the weekend. The same weekend there's a party at a mutual friend's place. It's a 90-minute drive or so from the hostel the workshop takes place at. Jane and Carolyn miss their boyfriends sooooo much! Late on Saturday night, Jane and Carolyn suddenly have an idea. Why not get into the car and drive over to surprise their boyfriends who are both at the party?
And they do. Sean has chin-length blond hair, and wears a black leather jacket (biker style) and he has tied Jane's red bandana to it. 
Jane and Carolyn arrive at the party, which takes place in a rural area. Jane gets out of the car and spots, some 150m away a couple walking hand in hand down a footpath into the woods. They stop and kiss and then walk on. She can only see them from behind and catches a glimpse from the side when they turn to kiss. The guy has chin-length blond hair. Jane is shocked...he wears a leather jacket. Okay...could still be anybody...but as he turns she catches a glimpse of her red bandana. 
Jane is heartbroken and cries. Carolyn has to comfort her. They want to get something to drink and enter the house where the party takes place. Sniffling and puffy-eyed Jane bumps into Sean on the way to the bar. "WTF? You here? But I thought you were..." 
Explanation: Sean's friend borrowed his leather jacket. They both have the same hairstyle. 

Put this in a romantic comedy and people will go, "Yeah, sure. What a coincidence!"

3 Life and death

William has lived in fear of a genetic autoimmune disease he was diagnosed with at the age of about 50. He has four children, three sons and a daughter who has always been a bit of a favourite. He lives to see his grandchildren born. Five boys, one girl. His daughter then has a son. The disease that has been mostly dormant until then begins to break out. William is scared of the effects of the disease but is able to celebrate his 80th birthday surrounded by his entire family. His daughter gets pregnant again and this time it's a girl. William is happy. A girl for his little girl. William's daughter has to have a caesarean but the baby girl is healthy. William has become more and more ill but he lives to learn about the arrival of his youngest grandchild. Four days later, he collapses with cerebral haemorrhage and is rushed into hospital. He's in intensive care - in the same hospital that his granddaughter was born at. So daughter, father and grandchild are in the same hospital where eventually William dies just five days after his granddaughter was born at the same hospital. 

This is a story that sounds as if it was written to make a point. Like "don't despair and never lose hope, life goes unexpected ways". It's such a complete cycle and it sounds like something you could find in "Chicken Soup for the Soul" but it happened that way. 

There are a lot more events like that, some even more impossible to use but if I wrote them down here, it would be too obvious who's who even if I changed the names and I could get friends into trouble. 
I would refrain from using these events in any of my stories even though life wrote them simply because using them would make people think I'm a seriously bad writer. Perhaps they will think so anyway but then it's my own fault and not life's. 

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