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Emma Darwin
I write novels and short fiction and I live in South East London.
Interests: fiction, creative non-fiction, novels, short fiction, short stories, historical fiction, academic writing, writing, reading, editing, teaching
Recent Activity
Glad it helps, Kate! Good luck!
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Peter - apologies, I missed this! Yes, that is, essentially, what I'm saying. A narrator can make whatever rules you like as to what they tell: I could sit here and say "On the other side of London my sister is preparing for Christmas, but what she's really thinking about is her holiday in Devon, that she's booked for Valentine's Day". It would be your judgement as to whether I'm right or not, of course. And I'd probably convince you more easily to believe me, if there was an underlying possible-ness to what I'm saying: that I know my sister, that we're in touch fairly often, that I'm likely to know that she's booked a holiday in Devon for Valentine's Day..." So I'd suggest that if you are going to make your internal, character-narrator tell the reader about events that they weren't present for, then you might check in with your own sense of the wider context in time and space, to think about how much and why they might know about what those others were doing ...
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You're welcom, Moira. And yes, I think Helen Dunmore is one of those writers where the prose and the poetry are so clearly different forms for the same personality, as it were.
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Amy, you're welcome!
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Yes - it can be nice to be in touch with others. Writing's a lonely business, or hobby!.
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You're welcome, Ruth. Good luck!
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Rachael, you're so welcome - really glad it helps, and best of luck with it.
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You're welcome, Kacie! So glad it's helped - and best of luck with the writing.
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There's a post on semi-colons somewhere in the toolkit, I think. I certainly did one! On commas - lots of them are negotiable, because they're partly about meaning, and partly about expression. Will put it on the to-do list!
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Every now and again someone asks me not, "How can I write this story better?" - to which I have a whole Tool-kit-full answers, obviously - but "How can I become a better writer?" Assuming that my interlocutor is already meeting the absolute pre-condition of being a better writer, which is reading more, and more widely, my next suggestion is probably to take a poetry course. That's not because I think everyone should write lyrically - although that is a very honourable goal - but because I think it can help any writer to develop. As Ray Bradbury puts it... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Su, you're so welcome! I'm so glad it was helpful - and that there's more useful stuff for you as the course rolls on. Good luck!
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Hi Rolf - well spotted! I feel that "Actor" without the hyphen is easy to read either as "thespian" or in a blander, more general sense, as a synonym for "character". By writing it as "act-or", I'm trying to keep on reminding us all that "drama is character-in-action", as Aristotle said, and that even a story not being told by actors in a Greek theatre is nonetheless built of people who act.
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Oh, Pippa, it's hell. You have ALL my sympathy! And the 5 minute rejections are not nice, though in some ways it's maybe easier to take than some, when it's clearly just not right for the list. VERY best of luck!
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Lisa, that sounds like a fascinating project - and, yes, the surviving family issue is tricky. In law, you can't libel the dead, so you're OK there. But many writers would feel that they'd like to respect family members' feelings ... but not all writers would. Splinter of ice in the heart, and all that. Mind you, family members' feelings may not be accurate, IYSWIM. If all the evidence is that one of your woman's bosses was a womanising monster - and it's right for your story too - would and should you soft-pedal that, and weaken the story, just because that boss's children are still alive and adore him? Or, more likely, don't adore him, but are offended to have the family dirty linen washed in public?
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Patsy, I think a lot of people would feel similarly - but that only really shifts the question onward, towards what size of fact it's OK to change, and what it isn't. Most of us would feel you couldn't change the date or place of a battle, say - but could we change where a picnic was held? Or take a picnic that was actually held one earlier summer, and put it in the year that we're writing about, in a summer where we don't know if they had a picnic or not ...? Endless decisions!
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Cut all the adjectives & adverbs" is right up there with "Show, don't Tell", as one of the first "rules" that new writers get told, and for similar reasons. And although it's perhaps responsible for more bland, threadbare writing than almost any other phenomenon except the ghost of Hemingway, it's not entirely nonsense either, any more than Hemingway is. The truth is, writing would be impossible if we couldn't use adjectives, adverbs and adverbial and adjectival phrases. But although you'll never get me to say that you "should" cut them, there is a whiff of good writerly sense somewhere at... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Aiyla, you're so welcome! And you're right - middle rung is exactly that stage. Best of luck with the clamber to the next one!
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Ooops! Said "Victorian" when it should have been 1920s. Thanks for pointing it out!
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At October's Words Away Salon next Monday, the 16th, Kellie and I are delighted to be hosting Jill Dawson. We'll be talking about writing fiction based on real characters - recent or ancient. Jill is a poet and novelist, and a highly-regarded mentor of writers, and her most recent novel is The Crime Writer. That's about Patricia Highsmith, but she's also written The Great Lover, about Rupert Brooke, and Fred and Edie, based on a famous 1920s murder. So we thought she'd be the perfect person to start us off talking about this fascinating but very challenging kind of fiction,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Glad it hits the spot, as it were, Richard. I was actually quite surprised when a cri-de-coeur on another forum made me realise I never had blogged about it. It must be just about the most universal topic!
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Lorraine, you're very welcome. That sounds really tough: over a year is a loooonnnng time. Whisky is good...
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Ah, yes. If you ever see a house with spotless wheelie-bins, you can bet your boots there's a poet inside the house, gnawing their nails down as they refresh the email...
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Leslie, thank you for sharing that. I think putting your work (which is really your self) out there always takes courage. And most of us aren't, actually, content to create all these things and shove them under the bed, so it has to be faced. I think one problem with novels is that there's real no small-scale way to do it. There isn't the equivalent, really, of doing sewing or baking for local good causes, or talking the local café into putting your prints on their walls. You have to grapple with the book industry, or not at all ...
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Glad you like it, Julie-Ann!
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