Thursday, July 2, 2009

Coincidence or Fate?

I can't stop thinking about Michael Jackson. His talent. His music. The fact that "Rock With You" from his Off the Wall album was the best couples skate song EVER played at Cal Skate way back when spending a Saturday at the roller rink was the coolest thing next to playing Tempest, the arcade game. Wait. Did I just show my age? I was um. Really young when I was in my skating phase. And Cal Skate was one of those retro places like the Corvette Diner in San Diego. Yeah, that's the ticket.

I also keep thinking about my encounter with the King of Pop a few years back during a girlfriend getaway trip to Vegas. My girlfriends and I spent our Saturday lounging by our hotel's pool, soaking up the desert sun. We only had a few hours before we needed to get ready for our evening's festivities, the KISS / Aerosmith show at the MGM Grand. A concert, which, as you may know, requires a LOT of hairspray and playing "this is my favorite KISS song" prior to the show. Nevertheless, we decided we had enough time to quickly dash to The Forum at Caesar's Palace to buy our guilty gifts for the kiddies and hubs we left back home. Our first stop was FAO Schwarz. After about an hour of shopping and riding the spiral escalator from the first to third floors over and over again because it's just plain fun, we noticed the store emptied out of everyone but well . . . us. And when we asked FAO's staff what was going on, they told us Michael Jackson was coming to shop so Caesar's security had to lock down the store. And now, we couldn't leave. Because outside the store, The Forum looked like this:

So yes, that's right. I was locked in a toy store with Michael Jackson! Luckily, we had a camera and Michael graciously allowed us to snap this photo of a lifetime near the candy bins:

Of course, having our picture taken with Michael immediately went to our heads. And turned us into goofballs.

What does this have to do with YA writing, you ask ? Well, being locked in a toy store with one of the most famous people in the universe is known as a "coincidence." And far-fetching, unbelievable "coincidences" in a novel's plot supposedly kills the credibility of a story. Agents and editors also, apparently, don't want to hear we, the slush-pile-warriors-yet-to-be-published exclaim to them: "But it really happened that way!"

So my blog post today, dear diner readers, is about being a rebel and breaking the rules. If you want to write a story about a 16-year old misfit character who, in a twist of cosmo weirdness, winds up face-to-face with MJ, run with with story. Create a voice and plot so high-concept, funny-bizarre spectacular, a reader can't Don't-Stop-'Til-You-Get-Enough of your story until the very last period of the manuscript. Maybe your character believes in fate or destiny. Maybe your character despises celebrity chasing because her mom runs with a gossip magazine's paparazzi. Or maybe, your character doesn't shower or put on makeup before she flops from her hotel pool to The Forum. So when she finds herself standing next to a soft spoken, gentle icon that blows all the tabloid junk about him out of the water, she's completely horrified at her personal hygiene. Oh wait. That last example was me.

Rest in peace, Michael. We'll miss you.

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