Author Topic: Coincidences: what do you think?  (Read 1743 times)

Offline Melita

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Coincidences: what do you think?
« on: February 14, 2007, 05:56:12 AM »
Hi everyone,

I've got a really great (I think) idea for a story that has been developing in my head for a couple of years now and it's based around coincidences. So, I need to know: do you think coincidences are just events that you go "Wow, that's weird,"about, or do you believe in Fate and predetermination?

Like, I read yesterday this story about two twins in Finland or somewhere that got killed in identical bicycle accidents on the same road two hours apart.(This is beauty of the internet - no specifics. Right off, I want to know if they both cycled home on the same road to the same house everyday, thus lowering the odds considerably.) But what do you think about phenomena like this and if you have any good reasons it would help.

If any of you know of any philosophical theories about Fate, etc. that I could look into it would be really appreciated too.

Lin

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Re: Coincidences: what do you think?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2007, 07:44:28 AM »
If ever you go to Whitby in Yorkshire, visit the church at the top of cliff (St Mary's Parish Church whose churchyard on Whitby's East Cliff gave Bram Stoker the inspiration to write his world famous book "Dracula" ) and at the side of the church is the Huntrods Memorial. which is remarkable for its recording of the identical ages of the birth and death of the Huntrods couple.

Its about a couple who were born on the same day, got married had children whose birthdays were on the same day as their parents and they died on the same day.   I cant remember the full story but there is more to it but I cant find any good references on the net.
Ill let you know if I do
Lin
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« Last Edit: February 14, 2007, 08:09:08 AM by Lin Treadgold »

Offline thatollie

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Re: Coincidences: what do you think?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2007, 07:49:09 AM »
I think the idea that we can't control where we're going is depressing. When I do something that gets recognised, I want to say that I've earnt it not that it came to me.
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Offline fordy

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Re: Coincidences: what do you think?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2007, 02:37:31 PM »
I wannabe with thatollie on this one.  The problem is I'm not sure.  After 58 years, writing everything off to 'coincidence' seems a thin excuse even to me.  Too often I have written something, done something, said something that has been startlingly 'spot on' and yet I'm left asking myself; "where did that come from?"  Can I take all the credit?  Don't know.  Who came up with the idea of a writer's 'muse' anyway and why? 

Here's the latest bit of weirdness: Last November I took part in NaNoWrMo for the first time.  I was excited; I had a book idea I wanted to exercise and saw this as a great opportunity.  On November 1st, I started writing, and on the evening of November 1st, I fell very heavily off my bike, ripped apart the AC joint in my shoulder, and had my right arm immobilised in a sling.  To say I was devastated was an understatement.  Trying to type with one finger on my left hand was torture and I had to finish 50k words that month.

Now here is the weirdness ... a few weeks ago, I was transcribing some old blog entries into a new blog format and I came across the blog entry for October 29th.  In that entry I was letting my readers know that I might not be posting for a while as I would be busy with NaNoWriMo.  The last line of that post read "See you out the other end (unless I fall of my bike at the first corner)."  I really do hope that was just a coincidence.

Statistics: the last time I fell off of my bike was 43 years ago.  The last time I used that phrase about falling off of  a bike?  Who knows, its not an idea I'm conscious of using with any regularity.

Oh yes, and I did finish my 50k words before the end of November.
If I always do what I always did, I'll always get what I always got.

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Coincidences: what do you think?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2007, 04:56:33 PM »
Over the years I've come to a fairly comfortable conclusion that some things are pre-destined, but we still have a lot of free choice in the details of our lives.  A mixture of going with the flow and sometimes swimming against the current whatever the odds.  It works for me ;-)

Can I accept the concept (if not necessarily the reality) of the gods playing dice for the fate of millions?  To some extent yes.

Occasionally we do something which seems totally outrageous, completely out of character, but it ties in perfectly with what happens later.  Some of the most fascinating people I've met have been through doing something out of the ordinary.  People who have influenced my whole life since meeting them, even if we are no longer involved.  Yet I never would have met them except for that sudden decision to turn one way or the other at one of life's many junctions.

On the subject of twins leading strangely similar lives I can't help feeling there is a certain amount of genetic programming at work there.  Just as I sometimes find myself doing some things almost exactly as my own Father did.  I've done things he never did, our opportunities have been vastly different, but some parts of our lives have been so similar it's almost frightening.

In summary I suspect our lives are a bit like a writer's choice of genre, broadly mapped out by fate (or just traditional expectations combined with genetics) but open to individual interpretation.  Some follow the 'rules' almost exactly, some swerve wildly between one kind of life and another like a drunken driver, and some manage to switch completely at significant points.

In direct answer to Melita's post...  If you think you have a good enough idea go with it, don't look for evidence to support it. Write your story.  In the natural order of things half the readers will be inclined to believe and the other half to doubt.  Some will do both as the whim takes them.

Gyppo   
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

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Re: Coincidences: what do you think?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2007, 05:15:24 PM »
I agree completely with Gyppo


Just write your story and let the reader make up his/her mind. This is an issue you will never be able to research enough to find a logical, if you will, answer that would push you to write in one direction or the other.


Just write it and see where it takes you.



Sincerely


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Offline orchid15

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Re: Coincidences: what do you think?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2007, 08:48:37 PM »
I think you can make it work, especially with twins.  Most people have heard enough stories about the odd connection between twins that readers will accept coincidence in that relationship.

But in general writing, I think we need to be careful about too much coincidence,  It is the case of truth being stranger than fictiion, and some things that are true come out contrived and unbelievable if written as a story. 

I do agree with Gyppo and Fordy.   Write your story and see how it comes out


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Offline Melita

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Re: Coincidences: what do you think?
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2007, 11:46:09 AM »
Thanks for sharing your opinions. I agree with you guys (but, Gyppo, you managed to put it much more succinctly and coherantly than I could ever hope to).

The idea for my story (don't want to give too much away) is that the coincidences turn out not to be coincidences. The plot kind of centres around my main character and her reaction to the coincidences, she starts to think that maybe Fate does exist and she has no control and it breaks down from there. I just wanted to know how other people would react.

fordy, I don't even know where the AC joint is, but it didn't stop me from wincing. Glad you managed to get your 50k done!

Thanks for the link DaveC, but I'd already read that thread. Some great stories.

Okay, couldn't resist posting this one: in 1975 a man was killed in a crash with a taxi while riding his moped in Bermuda. A year later, his brother was killed in exactly the same way (he was even riding the same moped). Just to lengthen the odds, he was hit by the same taxi carrying the same passenger. Now that is unfortunate.

Couple of questions: if you get killed on a moped, surely the moped itself must be pretty mangled. Too mangled to have someone else ride it a year later?
Shouldn't the taxi driver have, at the least, been banned from driving for killing the first guy?
Anyway, I'll stop being logical and let you all get on with your real lives. Cheers.

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Coincidences: what do you think?
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2007, 06:19:26 PM »
Thanks for sharing your opinions. I agree with you guys (but, Gyppo, you managed to put it much more succinctly and coherantly than I could ever hope to).

Thankyou.  Years of practice.  Sometimes it really does help ;-)

The idea for my story (don't want to give too much away) is that the coincidences turn out not to be coincidences. The plot kind of centres around my main character and her reaction to the coincidences, she starts to think that maybe Fate does exist and she has no control and it breaks down from there. I just wanted to know how other people would react.

Go for it ;-)  It's your tale.  No one else can write it as you will.  Even if a dozen of us started at the same time from exactly the same basic premise we'd all write it very differently because of our own life experiences and aspirations.

Okay, couldn't resist posting this one: in 1975 a man was killed in a crash with a taxi while riding his moped in Bermuda. A year later, his brother was killed in exactly the same way (he was even riding the same moped). Just to lengthen the odds, he was hit by the same taxi carrying the same passenger. Now that is unfortunate.

Couple of questions: if you get killed on a moped, surely the moped itself must be pretty mangled. Too mangled to have someone else ride it a year later?

Seeing as you asked...  Generally speaking the lighter bikes and mopeds survive collisions better than the heavier machines.  Unless the moped is physically  run over it will usually bounce clear and is often rideable immediately after if the rider survives to do so.  Most impacts are glancing sideways blows rather than head-on killers.  This is like the difference between a slap and a punch.  Even if delivered with equal force the results differ vastly.

The rider- being a collection of soft tissue and brittle bones - is an entirely different issue, and I think you'll find in Bermuda there is no helmet law.  A comparitively gentle fall onto the head can kill you or at the very least seriously damage your brain.  I have survived a few nasty tumbles myself over the years, usually with a mixture of rolling and sliding.  But I've never had to cope with other vehicles or solid roadside fittings stopping me before my momentum was exhausted.


Shouldn't the taxi driver have, at the least, been banned from driving for killing the first guy?

That would depend upon the circumstances and witnesses.  If the moped rider was clearly in the wrong - running a red light for example - then there is no legal reason to ban the driver just because a careless rider died as the result of his own stupidity/carelessness.  And there is a lot of newspaper evidence to suggest that certain kinds of stupidity runs in families.

Anyway, I'll stop being logical and let you all get on with your real lives. Cheers.

Fair enough.  Now get started on that book ;-)

My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1