Stephen Graham Jones, 10 Truths About Fiction.

One of my favorite essays on story-telling is by Fast Red Road author Stephen Graham Jones—you can find the whole thing over at LitReactor.

7. Readers are very aware of contrivance.

Of developments that are dramatically convenient, that serve as a necessary bridge for the story to move from A to B. What they want, what will let your story be real, are developments that are organic, that are from the world, not from your own need or laziness. Contrivances break the dream, make us see this fiction as written. And any time the reader sees that—when they’re not supposed to be seeing that—they usually stop reading. Reading that reminds the reader that they’re reading is a strange kind of loop for fiction to take, or want to take. It can be a rhetorical device, of course, if the story has that many levels to it, but if it’s done on accident, then the story nearly always fails. And, like I was saying, the readers out there, they’re sophisticated, they’ve been played before. But they go into a text trusting you nevertheless. It’s your duty to be worthy of that trust.