Happy Accidents

I accidentally shot this photo of the interior of a rental car while traveling across the Golden Gate Bridge. I like the cartoonish, pop-art feel, even though I missed the bridge entirely...

Sometimes a mistake can change one’s point of view. Getting lost and ending up in a neighborhood you’ve never seen before. Angling for a photo and snapping at the wrong time, capturing something totally unlike what you intended. Breaking a glass and scrutinizing the floor for every last bit of shine.

Our characters, in fiction, make mistakes too. In fact, the more that befalls them, the more our plots churn forward. And characters who don’t have any missteps are boring, aren’t they? They stay one-dimensional, inhuman.

So here’s a question: What accidents have befallen you—or your characters—recently? How did that experience change your perspective?

About Laura Stanfill

Publisher, Forest Avenue Press
This entry was posted in Fiction, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Happy Accidents

  1. And, if you happen to be writing mystery stories, are the accidents and coincidences really that, or not? Some suspects seem to have alibis and some don’t, is this just good luck for the former and bad luck for the latter, or is there more going on? Because you’re right, if all the accidents and coincidences turn out to be pre-planned, the story doesn’t resemble real life.

  2. I’m frequently wrong — what I remember, what I thought I heard. I consider it an accident (who really intends to mis-hear or mis-remember?) In those times when I have verifiable evidence of how what I thought I heard (or remembered) wasn’t correct, it’s an eye-opener. It’s humbling, because I was so sure of what I was sure of.

    I like the idea of working this into a story, how inaccurate our filters are, how the “truth” is often somewhere off to the side of what we think it is. Hmmmm, am I working my way around to that ever important “premise” I’ve been in search of?

    • Thanks for your comment, Jackie! This is an especially fascinating point when thinking about memoir, and trying to record what “really” happened from your own point of view versus what others experienced. I suppose we’re all writers because we see things in a specific (different?) way and want to record that view, or at least do our best to make sense of it.

      • And also, when you tell somebody about something that happened to you, you tend to smooth it out, form it a bit, make a better “story” out of it, and if you tell it a few times it becomes difficult to remember the real, messy details.

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