August  9, 2003 
This is The Rule: you                                                   
are allowed one single                                                  
unlikely coincidence,                               ARISTOTLE_BEGINS  
and it will be                                                          
presented near the         For Aristotle, this is the *definition* of a 
beginning of the story.    beginning: "A beginning is that which does not
It then functions as       itself follow anything by causal necessity, but
the premise, and the       after which something naturally is or comes to be."
rest of the narrative                                                   
will be a logical, if                                                   
not predictable, flow                                                   
from that beginning.     The doctrine of The Twist:                     
                         suprises are supposed to seem                  
                         inevitable in retrospect, but     A beginner's error:
                         only in retrospect.               believing that doing
Exceptions exist:                                          the unexpected will
                                                           impress with novelty.
The "it can always get         THE_TWIST
worse" exception:                                          Going for surprise by
                                                           breaking a "rule"
Chance is allowed to do                                    rarely works-- we
harm, but never benefit.                                   complain about
You can run from the bad                                   cliches often, but
guys into an avalanche,     This exception can be          must beware the
but you can not have an     abused: benefit can be         hidden functions of
avalanche fortuitously      disguised as tragedy.          common elements.
wipe out the bad guys                                                   
leaving you untouched.         Note the short life-              AND_JUDY
                               expectancy of girl-friends               
Lightning may strike, but      of action-adventure heroes.              
it must not strike the                                                  
The irony exception:                                                    
The monster can turn on                                                 
the creator, and destroy                                                
them both.                                                              
The invincible aliens can be                                            
wiped out by lowly bacteria.                                            
James Bond can be rescued from                                          
torture at the last minute,          (That's the Fleming                
but only by a SMERSH assassin        Bond, not the Connery.)            
sent to eliminate the faction                                           
which happens to be torturing                                           
As with all rules,                                                      
the question might                                                      
be raised, "why?"                                                       
Some possible starting points:                                          
   There's a                                                            
   between reality                                                      
   and realism.                                                         
   Unlike reality,                                                      
   fiction has to                                                       
   worry about                                                          
   being plausible.                                                     
   Fiction must                                                         
   "live up to                                                          
   the real".                                                           
   Fiction is not the                                                   
   opposite of truth,                                                   
   and not a synonym                                                    
   for lies.                                                            
The primal rule (as stated by                                           
Kenneth Robeson): the hero      DOC_SAVAGE     
must extricate himself by his                                                
own actions.                                                                
                                   The rule against coincidences may    
                                   just be an application of this.      
        And the first exception is              
        really that all rules can be     
        broken at the outset of the      
        story as part of the premise.