This is Emma Darwin's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Emma Darwin's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
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
I'm just back from the 2017 York Festival of Writing. If you don't know what I'm on about, this is a selection of posts from former years, and if you do, you'll know that the weekend was, as ever, packed with workshops, one-to-ones, lunches, dinners, breakfasts (yes, everyone talks writing even over the cornflakes and sausages, and through the hangover), agents, publishers, authors, writers and ducks. And, as ever, I mentioned various blog posts at various times to various people, as a way of expanding on whatever we were talking about. This, to the best of my ability, is a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Shah, you're so welcome! So glad you're finding the blog useful. And, yes, you might use "was" like a canary in the mine: to get you to examine how that sentence is working. Mind you, it's not really about "correct" in the "correct grammar" sense, is it - the idea of cutting was-y things is just about one person's idea of what makes effective writing, elevated to a "rule". Only it's a pretty stupid idea...
1 reply
I've blogged more than once about how to give feedback, but most writers get feedback even more than they give it, since as well as workshop friends, you'll get it from teachers, agents, editors, reviewers, friends and family. Here, I'm going to refer to them all as "the reader", because that's what we hope a feeder-back will be: a representative of the readers we're hoping for. Obviously the setup varies. Some settings are "live": a Skype session with a mentor, round a workshop table, at a one-to-one book doctor session, in virtual workshop on your online course. Some are written... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Sophie, you're very welcome. I haven't blogged about narrative voice for a while, it occurs to me. Another one for the To Do list!
1 reply
Chuck, bless you for spotting that! I'm blaming my jetlag- or possibly altitude sickness. All put right now - and I do hope you enjoy it. I'll be talking in English (my Spanish being at the menu level...) and they have simultaneous translation for the audience there, so you should be fine!
1 reply
Image
The fact that I'm online in a hotel bar perched above a staggeringly beautiful gorge in North Mexico is not something I'm typing just to make you jealous. I've squeezed in a few days away (photography, poetry, walking, trains ... my usual stuff) while I'm really here for work. But it's made me realise that it's been a while since I posted about what I'm up to in the next few months, so here goes. I don't know how many readers of This Itch of Writing live in or around Mexico City - although it never ceases to astonish me... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
I think one species of confidence is the confidence to Tell: not trying to disguise it as Showing, but saying, by implication, "Listen! This is what matters - this is what you need to know. Let me tell you..." Why not? We ARE telling stories. It helps if you've found a voice for the narrative which is engaging or compelling in itself. Any of us will listen to a storyteller, if they're worth listening to. If it helps - I have to do this sometimes - think up a storyteller - an "author" - who isn't necessarily you at all. They may not be a character, but they have a personality and a reason for telling, which hugely helps you to decide how/what to narrate. 19th century novelists had that confidence, and so did many 20th century ones. But as the century wore on - and we're children of the 20th century, all of us - it got harder and harder to say "This is the story I'm telling, and I'm telling it MY way ..." I do, seriously, think it's the influence of film, which has no authorial voice. (The directorial presence is much less overt).
1 reply
Vulpa, you're really welcome. The scale of the beast is very different, isn't it. Best of luck with it!
1 reply
Thanks for the feedback, Terry. The post is a checklist, as the title suggests, and most writers will only want or need to explore some of the points. As you'll know if you follow the blog, over-simple definitions of ideas about writing are always wrong, and I've seen FAR too many aspiring writers tying themselves into miserable knots by trying to conform to some "explanation" so crude it does more damage than good. Mind you, the point of the blog isn't to sell workshops - I don't do many, and only when I'm asked to by others. I blog for the fun of it, to help writers, and to develop my own thinking in and around these topics.
1 reply
Gosh, Martin, that's really interesting, although I have to say it's not at all how I understand Gardner, or have developed his ideas for my purposes. For me, it's all about the narrator, as the storyteller, and the viewpoint character/s, as an act-or in the events of the story, being separate entities, even if they're the same person. I don't see it as being about what action actually happens - manipulated or otherwise - but about how it's expressed in the writing. And whether the voice of the writing is dominated by the narrator's take on things, or taken over by the character's voice-and-take, is what that controls our experience of psychic closeness or distance. Obviously, the narrator may have more context and understanding than the character-in-the-moment, the act-or, will have. If the narrator is a character but not the main character, the central focus of the story (e.g. Nick telling Gatsby's story), then it's up to them as a storyteller how much and what to let themselves narrate the inside of (e.g.) Gatsby's head. In Nick's case, not very much: Gatsby remains mysterious. But it is the narrator's story, and her/his rules....
1 reply
Glad you like it, Rahab.
1 reply
Ben, you're welcome!
1 reply
Oh, I love that! So true, and an excellent maxim.
1 reply
Kerry, you're welcome. I genuinely think that at least some of the stuff that one "ought" to learn to leave out is a very natural part of the first-draft stage. Sometimes you can only find out what doesn't need to be there by writing it in the first place. Although I suspect that several novels down the line one might look back and realise that one's writing has managed to shed at least some of that stuff before it hit the page. Mind you, you'll be doing other things that need revising, instead, because every novel sets challenges that nothing has offered you before... Best of luck, and Bon Voyage to the one on NetGalley!
1 reply
Bena, you're welcome. And you are SO not alone in finding that winkling out passive constructions which aren't earning their keep is a crucial editing stage. Best of luck with it!
1 reply
I know people who swear they tutor for the OU chiefly to have access to their fabulous e-library! And yes, the OED is bliss, isn't it. I have access via my library, and I think most County Libraries to have that access for those with a card. £2.80 is indeed a no-brainer - why wouldn't you? Enjoy!
1 reply
Hope you're enjoying it! It's a handsome beast, isn't it.
1 reply
You're welcome. And yes, sheer forgotten-ness - at any age (I refuse to believe mine is permanent) - is another good reason.
1 reply
Image
I've just had the very great pleasure of chairing the judges for the Historical Writers' Association Debut Crown Prize. Along with former winner Ben Fergusson, book bloggers Ayo Onatade and Susan Heads, and novelist and journalist Sunny Singh, we had the task of reading something like 36 debut historical novels. And as we wrangled our way from a longlist to a shortlist, I was reminded of how historical fiction presents any writer with some of the biggest writerly challenges of all. So it's genuinely remarkable how the best of what we'd read - all debuts, after all - met those... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Cat, you're welcome. And yes, donations to all good causes are very welcome!
1 reply
At the Authors for Grenfell auction, I offered to write a bespoke blog post for the bidder of the largest amount. The auction has closed now, having raised over £180,000, but the Red Cross's London Fire Appeal is very much open, and the needs of the victims don't vanish as the headlines do, so do please click through to donate. And for a lovely story of the power of social media in these things, click here. My idea, in offering the blog post, was that the bidder would get from some personalised advice. But the winning bidder turned out to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
As part of an initiative to raise money for the Red Cross London Fire Relief Fund, on behalf of victims of the dreadful fire in North London, Authors for Grenfell Tower have got together to auction signed books, characters, events, critiques and many more writerly treats, in aid of the fund. I am offering you the chance to have your own, bespoke Itch of Writing blogpost, addressing a personal writing problem of your own. I'm happy to include your name and internet links, or for it to be anonymous, as you prefer. If you'd like to bid, the page is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Hi Connie - glad you like the blog. I'm afraid the story isn't anywhere beyond that notebook, I'm afraid. I should type it up, but haven't got round to it! It was an experiment, but surprisingly easy to do, and reads surprisingly normally, IYSWIM. But it was only a little'un - maybe 500 words. Not sure how sustainable it would be over a longer stretch.
1 reply
Oh, I don't know the audio book - I love Jenny Agutter's reading, and she would be perfect! As you say, the reader/listener needs to "hear" what the ostensible narrator doesn't...
1 reply
Hi Carol - glad you like the post, and many thanks for the mention!
1 reply