The plan isn’t foolproof. For it to work,
certain things must happen.
So begins Jack Handey’s bank heist piece in the Shouts and Murmurs column of this week’s New Yorker magazine.
He lists a series of highly unlikely (yet clever and hilarious!) coincidental events that must occur for a certain robbery to succeed. Improbable as the events are, a writer might be able to weave one or two of them into a story -- taking care to make them motivated and believable -- and end up with a rollicking good tale (for example, Ocean’s Eleven).
But if a writer substitutes “plot” for Handey’s opening reference to “plan,” the list becomes an effective refresher on the problems of deus ex machina and coincidence in fiction.