You remember green eggs and ham? My kids loved Dr Seuss stories. So did I. Here’s a kids’ video clip to remind you.
Sam pestered so much for his friend to try green eggs and ham that in the end . . . what do you know? The lesson is this: you have to try things before you can say you don’t like them.
My own green eggs and ham experience
I’m coming to it. What has this to do with writing fiction? And green eggs and ham? Yes. really, I’m coming to it.
Recently I met two new people. When I learned what they used to do my jaw dropped. One was a consultant medical neuro-pathologist. One used to be a truck driver.
This is how the conversation went with the retired consultant.
She: There’s a lot of current research into mild brain injuries. Even one trauma can have repercussions.
Me: Really? What kind of repercussions?
She: A whole host of pain-related conditions.
Me: How about transient global amnesia?
She: You know about that?
Me: Yes. I had a bizarre episode last August when I forgot everything.
She: What had happened to you before?
Me: I was knocked down by a car and banged my head on the ground. I broke bones, too. Now I’ve got CRPS. They call it algodystrophy here.
Trust me. We’re getting to the green eggs and ham bit.
This fabulous woman explained to me what had been happening in my brain. Eight months later, at a time of stress, my brain said Enough. It shut me down. Made me sleep. Afterwards, I forgot the forgetting.
Her explanation in simple terms put me in a different place. I felt relieved. There was a reason this amnesia had happened to me. What a superb coincidence I met her.
I had a lovely conversation with the truck driver, too who I met while he was walking his dogs. He has loads of tales to tell. Adventures. Characters. Places. Unusual goods. I’m plotting Book Two of Trobairitz – my female truck driver. I’d been hoping to take myself up to the truck stop nearby on the motorway and eavesdrop snatches of conversation, even ask questions outright. But I have problems driving since my injuries. Now I have a trucker right on my own doorstep. What another superb coincidence.
How come these two people suddenly arrived in my life?
Here we go. This is it. The green eggs and ham moment.
In fiction I cannot abide coincidence. It riles me no end. So much so, I was inspired to write my own little ditty. Apologies to Dr Seuss.
In future, past or present tense
We do not like coincidence.
We do not like it, Cee or Mick.
We think it is an author’s trick.
They do it when they’re in a spot.
They do it to support a plot.
They usually do it in the middle.
It is deceit. It is a fiddle.
The hero hides behind a door.
Hears facts he never knew before.
Clues she left upon the bed. Duh!
Something missing in the shed. Duh!
Coincidence along the street.
Convenient strangers characters meet.
Authors must know it is a ‘fou’.
But do not know what else to do.
It walks and quacks just like a duck.
We do not want it in a book.
We do not want it in our fiction.
It is a cop-out, causing friction.
It is not good. It is not clever.
We’d ban coincidence forever.
And yet, and yet, we do declare
Coincidence is everywhere.
We do not like it when we’re reading.
But it fills the life we’re leading.
No easy-outs in fiction stuff.
In Life, we like it well enough.
Plots and story lines that rely too much on coincidence annoy me. But the truth is, coincidence does happen in real life. Maybe it’s time for me to try it in my fiction. It’s my own, personal green eggs and ham.
But I think I’ll try it in a short story first.
What do you think about the use of coincidence in fiction?