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  1. sprirj

    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Situation & Circumstance

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sprirj, May 4, 2013.

    So I'm reading a book about writing novels, and there is a chapter about Situation Vs Circumstance. It explains that Circumstance is vital to making a story exciting, but almost all writers confuse Circumstance with Situation.
    The book gives examples of both, but I can't really tell the difference. I must be one of those writers who confuses the two!!!!

    Can anyone explain if this is circumstance or situation?

    A man awakes with no memory. People are after him.
    He begins a journey to escape these people and find out who he is.



    Thank you, you clever people.
     
  2. Xatron

    Xatron Contributing Member

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  3. sanco

    sanco Contributing Member

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    That depends on what your book defines the words to be. I haven't come across those two words as common writers' terminology.
     
  4. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    how do you know that's what he's doing?
     
  5. erebh

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think he said he's READING a book about writing novels....

    yep, he definately said reading...
     
  6. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Who is the author of this writing guide you're reading? I have no idea what he or she means by situation and circumstance.

    My guess is, the book isn't worth your while.
     
  7. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What minstrel said.

    The key point is that the author is quite literally selling his perspective on fiction writing. If he cannot do so clearly enough for a literate reader who has some knowledge of fiction writing to begin with, then how much credence should you give him?

    Even if what he is saying is somehow justified, is it worth the cash you paid for the book? Not to mention the much more valuable time wasted reading it?
     
  8. Xatron

    Xatron Contributing Member

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    He had probably mistyped writing instead of reading, then edited it out. Half the shame is mine, half is his :)
     
  9. sprirj

    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Ok, so first off I have no idea what Xatron is on about. I am reading a book. :s

    To answer the other question, it is a well reviewed book, which is a series of essays by various published/famous authors, covering many aspects of novel writing. Of course I don't take in every authors opinion as fact in this book, but I think it is detrimental to think of it as a waste of time reading such books, as everything I read serves as an education, whether I follow up on it or not. I asked the question to gain a second opinion on this reference of Situation Vs Circumstance, but I fear for the health of this forum if you write off the essay as nonsense just because you have not come across it before. It might just be a fresh insight? The writer of this particular essay is James Frey.
     
  10. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You could help us out by posting what Frey's definitions of "situation" and "circumstance" are. We haven't read his essay (as you no doubt have gathered), so we don't know what he means. However, some of us have read many books on writing, and have taken courses in it; if we aren't familiar with the terms as he's using them, he's using them in an idiosyncratic way. We'd like to help, but we need more information.
     
  11. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    james frey is famous/infamous not for being a great writer, but for having faked an autobiography, so i wouldn't put much stock in any advice he may give on writing!
     
  12. Rafiki

    Rafiki Active Member

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    It looks like he's written a couple best sellers and merely "exaggerated" in his memoir. Not that I'm defending him, he's a mediocre author that lacks a set of morals- not exactly a role model. I recommend finding a different author to teach you how to write, someone who's style meshes with your own and has a respect for their audience; I hear Stephen King has a good book on writing, and this is coming from someone who dislikes him- not that Stephen King is a good author, or better suited to your style, I'm just saying: options are out there.

    In any case make sure you research the author who's advice you're taking, it's like finding a teacher, the right one can go a long way.
     
  13. jeepea

    jeepea Member

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    This is probably a different James Frey. The other, James N. Frey, teaches and has written a number of books on creative writing including How to Write a Damn Good Novel. I could be wrong though.
     
  14. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm quite interested in this topic, but like the others, will need to see a substantial quote from the book, giving us James Frey's definitions and maybe a couple of examples. You've read the book, and you're baffled. Imagine how baffled WE are!
     

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