The Clumping Theory

Have you ever noticed how things seem to occur in clumps?

In the book world, these clumps are called hot trends. Like wizards, vampires, chick lit.

In life, it's more the little things.

Yesterday, I got a haircut. Three or four people I email with also either got their hair cut yesterday or within a day or two either way and had friends who were also getting haircuts in this same timeframe. None of us had mentioned it to each other before.

I've also heard this phenomenon called global consciousness or group consciousness.

Have you experienced this or noticed it happening to others or in a different way?

And how would you handle this kind of thing in fiction? I don't know if it could work. Maybe the readers would think it was too coincidental and would never happen the way we wrote it.

Or maybe we could write about a group who was studying it. Hmmm . . . maybe that will become my next WIP.

Don't steal it :)


I thought about getting a hair cut yesterday - does that count? The Clumping Theory does sound like an interesting concept for a book, I think you should run with it!
Terry Odell said…
I'm getting my hair cut today. But I think there's a thing to be said for synchronicity. It seems to happen a lot. Blog topics appear in clusters.

But you're right, in a book, you'd have to do a good job of setting it up.
Helen Ginger said…
Hmm. I got mine cut recently, too. I would have done mine sooner, but my hairdresser was off on holiday break, then I had to wait until she had an opening. It does appear these things happen in clusters, though, or maybe we apply the "cluster" idea to them.

Straight From Hel
Elspeth Futcher said…
I don't think it would work in a book, unless it was something funny or odd, like everyone buying the same banana-shaped cookie jar.

Marisa Birns said…
I've heard about clumping happening in film writing. One moment there's not a single script about cowboys,for example, then...boom...six scripts come in with Western themes from people who live in different parts of the country and don't know each other.

In a story? Hmmm. Maybe diverse people with nothing in common having the same dream at 12:01 a.m. on a Tuesday?
Laura Eno said…
Well, my mind goes in the odd direction. What if too many people flushed the toilet at the same time? Would the sewer plant be overwhelmed and explode? You've got me thinking here...
Anonymous said…
It is amazing how people seem to come up with similar ideas at the same time. Usually I notice it with food. I may have made lasagne for the first time in months and I'll talk to a few other people and they had it the day before or were making it the next day. Though I also notice it with books and DVD's. People I know just happen to watch the movie I've been thinking about watching. I probably wouldn't try to incorporate it in a story because the reader will see it as too coincidental, but it is an interesting phenomenon.
Terry Odell said…
Cassandra - LOL on the food. I belonged to a 'supper club' once, and everyone brought a dish. Entrees were always split so nobody had to cover the cost of meat for a large group, but we never coordinated. Pot luck was the fun part. I brought Moussaka to one meeting. And so did the other entree lady. Not exactly a run-of-the-mill type of dish. (Although hers was with beef and I used the traditional lamb, so they weren't exactly alike.)
Carol Kilgore said…
Jane & Helen - Your haircuts count in my book!

Terry & Cassandra - Terry, your haircut counts, too. And food ... once we went to a potluck get together where everyone was to bring something - didn't matter what. Everyone brought something different - but it was all from the same deli.

Elspeth, Marisa & Laura - I think you've hit on the only way it could work - by many people doing the same oddball thing, or the only thing that would cause something horrific to occur.
Conda Douglas said…
This reminds me of the odd phenomenon of "title runs" as editors sometimes call it--they'll get book after book with the same title--different authors, different subjects. Jungian mass subconscious?
Carol Kilgore said…
Whatever it's called, I think it's a little freaky.
Mason Canyon said…
You could always say good minds think alike.
Kathy McIntosh said…
Ooh, I got my hair cut on the 13th, before reading your post.
Great theory. I think of it as serendipity.
Might be too much coincidence in a novel unless you work it as a premise.