Oddly, despite my accident-proneness, Friday the 13th has never bothered me. So, naturally, today I started wondering about why this particular day is supposed to be unlucky. This Mental Floss article offers a helpful explanation.
Superstitions can be an interesting thing to play with in fiction. They provide ways to give characters and/or cultures some quirks. They also give us opportunities to create conflict within plots. And sometimes both factors can intertwine—even in real life.
For example, last night I watched a documentary about a hotel collapse in Singapore in the 1980s. The first sign of a problem was a concrete support column that abruptly cracked one afternoon. That same night, an employee was checking her makeup when the wall mirror she was using suddenly fractured. As the narrator put it:
"In Singapore, like most countries around the world, a broken mirror is a symbol of bad luck."
About thirteen hours later, the entire six-story building collapsed in less than a minute. 🤨🤔
Even for someone who's not superstitious, that's an eerie coincidence.
Investigators eventually discovered that <spoiler alert> because of a miscalculation in the building's design, the support columns weren't nearly strong enough. It was only a matter of time until they failed. And the mirror, it turns out, had been attached to one of the first columns to start cracking. When the column began to split, so did the mirror. </spoilers>
Personally, I think the only bad luck involved in that incident was for the people who happened to be in the building at just the wrong time.
In some ways, luck (good or bad) can affect not just our characters but also the success of our writing. I don't think, for example, the creators of Disney's Frozen had any idea they'd be releasing the film during a polar vortex. But I think one reason it connected so strongly with people is that, at least in North America, everyone felt like they were stuck in an eternal winter! On the other hand, a crime-fiction writer who unwittingly chooses the same release date as that of a much-anticipated John Grisham novel is probably not going to see the desired number of sales.
However, as they say, luck favors the prepared. If we do what we can to set ourselves up for success, then we're much more likely to be able to capitalize on any good luck or ride out any bad luck that comes our way.
That's why I'm inviting you one more time to check out my Manuscript-Critique Certification Course. Not only will you gain the skills to make some extra money (and who couldn't use that at a time like this?), but by learning how to critique others' work, you'll discover areas for improvement in your own writing. This, in turn, will save you money down the road by enabling you to do more of your own editing, reducing how much work your editor(s) will have to do—and, thus, how much you'll need to pay them.
Enrollment closes tomorrow, and I don't know when it'll open again, so sign up today! You won't regret it.