First off, go check out my Guest Post on Laura Pauling's Murder/Mystery blog series.
Sara McClung's May blogfest,
Are: May I tell you something about writing?
Last Monday, I posted about using character motivation and world-building to justify the plot decisions you want to make as the author. This increases believability, decreases plot holes and use of coincidence and can add depth to your characters and setting also.
Still, sometimes you can't see any way around it...you want the character to make an irrational decision, or act a little out of character, or you want/need to have just one too many coincidences.
A way I've used to increase believability during these situations is based on the Inoculation Theory in persuasive speaking (proof my incomplete speech/theatre minor in college wasn't a complete waste:).
According to wonderful Wikipedia, the inoculation theory was developed by social psychologist, William J. McGuire.
The idea (used in persuasive speaking, marketing and politics) is that you inoculate listeners against counterarguments by bringing them up before they think about or hear about them.
As a writer, I use this idea to plug up potential plot holes, increase the believability of coincidence and let my characters make the occasional irrational choice. You can use another character bringing up the problem/counterargument or have the POV character think out the inconsistency.
For a real-fiction-life example, I want my protag in Cheater Beaters (Becca), to meet up with, by accident, a guy (Riley) in the library, the school basement, and a coffee shop where he works...too coincidental? Maybe.
But, as a shot at making it work, I'm going to have the two characters joke about stalking each other. Then, the guy will say that he's in all his usual places, so it must be her stalking him.
See, now I've given a reason for the coincidence (or at least brought it up and made a joke of it), hopefully before the reader has a chance to feel like the situation is too unbelievable.
What about you? Ever used this strategy before or seen it used effectively?