Ideas like “bad luck” and “good luck” are prevalent in every culture. As a writer, you control what type of luck your characters get (Muahahahahaha!), and taking that into account can add realism to your story as well as inspire interesting plot twists. That said, here are 6 quotes about luck writers should remember (or at least try out as plotting inspiration).
Quotes about Luck for Plotting Inspiration
Some of these luck quotes are powerful on their own. They have a nice ring to them, they give new insights without further analysis, or they simply feel real. Others… well, they take a little more work.
1. “I’ve had no luck.” — The Baker from Into the Woods
Not the most impressive quote, I know; however, it gave me an interesting perspective on luck. The idea of no luck.
Technically, in the context, he’s saying that he has had no good luck. As in, he hasn’t found any more of the items the witch required of them. But, at the same time, he hasn’t really had any bad luck. At least no active bad luck, and if we consider luck an active thing, then the lack of good luck would actually be neutral rather than an example of bad luck.
In this case, neutral luck or no luck is still impeding the character’s goals, so this is a good reminder that the situation doesn’t have to be dire to get in the way.
2. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” — Seneca
Based on this quote, good luck is when you’re prepared when opportunity comes. Then, you can take advantage of it, and good things happen to you. Alternately, this means that bad luck is when you’re not prepared when opportunity comes, and the situation worsens as a result.
What an intriguing angle.
I could see this as advice from the wise elder type (a stereotype, yes, I know), a character epiphany, and a hilarious/nerve-wracking situation brought on by a feeling of poor timing (like in An American Tale when the two parts of the trap – the giant mouse thing and the cats – are repeatedly not ready at the same time). It could even be interesting to prepare for something that never happens. Now, that would have consequences worth reading about!
And that’s to start with. That’s a lot to take from a quote.
3.”Bad luck comes in threes.” — old saying
Ever had a year (or series of years) that felt like this? Like no sooner did you get your feet back under you than more awful news would knock you over? I know I have, and I know others who have, as well. That’s one reason repeated troubles help a story feel real. It’s something we expect from life (except maybe when we’re too young know).
To have conflict, you need to plot challenges for the character to go through and overcome. If everything comes too easily, you better have an outstanding world and characters. Otherwise, readers will lose interest.
4. “You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” — Cormac Mccarthy
Hmmm…so what you thought was bad luck might actually turn out to be good luck in the end?
Ok. I can think of examples of that in books and in life. Although, from those experiences, I would say that there is 1 caveat: just because it turns out to be neutral or good luck overall doesn’t mean it won’t be hard to get through in the meantime.
As one of my favorite Calvin & Hobbes comics said, “Being miserable builds character!”
5. “The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.” — Harry Golden
This is the entire concept of a plot: the main character defeats hardships by hard work, dedication, and skill. Or dumb luck, beauty, and magic. Or true love. You know, if it’s a French or classic Disney fairytale.
My main point with this one is that you get to decide what overcomes hard luck in your book. Pick something you value and use it to teach a generation that it’s valuable (it saves the day in all the books I like!).
You also get to decide how your characters react afterwards. If you want to mix things up, have the main character rescued by someone else. Then, dealing with being constantly rescued could become the real conflict. You can get really creative with this aspect.
I also like the term “hard luck.” That goes with the last idea where the horrible things you go through become a learning experience. That point of view could be useful.
6. “Luck is a very thin wire between survival and disaster, and not many people can keep their balance on it.” — Hunter S. Thompson
I would consider the two sides of the wire bad luck and good luck with the wire being neutral luck (also known as survival). Repeated conflicts batter the main characters, challenging their balance. Sometimes, they might fall off on one side of the other and have to struggle (or be pushed) back to that wire.
Because if they do nothing, they’ll stay where they’ve fallen.
That said, are you ready to go tug on that wire? Ready to use these quotes about luck to give your character’s a hard time? To make a better story?
I think so.
Go. Change up some luck.