I read a facebook post recently in which someone wrote that writers use coincidences as a cheap and easy way to get out of a difficult plot situation. At first I thought that sounded like a half-way true remark, but then realized that life is full of coincidences so why wouldn't they be a part of storytelling?
For instance, yesterday, after leading my dog over to do her morning business in the McDonald's grassy area (we live in an apartment with no poop place), I ventured over to my car to attempt to learn why it had, almost, over-heated the day before. As I was peering under the hood, hoping that the location of the radiator, and where and how to check the coolant level, would jump out and announce itself, a neighbor walked by and asked if I needed help. I had only been standing there for 30 seconds and he was walking by on his way to work. I've never met this neighbor. Turns out he works in an auto parts store and knew all about radiators and how engines work and had way more knowledge of the automobile than my narrow vantage of where the gas goes in. With in a couple of minutes, I learned how to check the coolant level, about the reserve thingie, and where to buy the necessary fluid; it was almost empty.
So if that was not a coincidence, than I need to relearn that basic word.
And haven't we all experienced those random, lovely happenstances in which the seemingly impossible suddenly works out because of some accident of fate, being in the right place at the right time, or stumbling on a new situation at just the correct moment in our lives?
So phooey and blah to those who think coincidence should be shoo-shooed out of books. If they happen in real life, they need to be in stories.