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
Here it is! http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2015/03/reserved-first-person-one-you-feel-for-while-shes-trying-to-hide-her-pain.html
1 reply
Back when I posted about how showing and telling should co-operate, not compete, a commenter said this: I struggle with showing my main character's emotion, over-complicating things in my attempt to avoid signals and abstract nouns. I'd love to pull off a reserved first person narrator, one you feel for, while she's trying to hide her pain even from herself, but so far not succeeded. I know what she means. In theory we all know that Less is More (except when it isn't) but how can you be sure the reader doesn't just understand, but really feels what's going on... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at This Itch of Writing: the blog
*passes hankie* ... Aw, thank you Cherys! I do wonder sometimes whether I should have gone down that route. But you're right, I think I'm happier, if poorer and more insecure (and that's not to say that academics are rich or very secure, goodness knows), than if I had followed that road.
1 reply
Writing can be - and maybe should be - stitched into your everyday life. But sometimes a short break, leaving all the quotidian rubbish behind, can free you to think, play, experiment and submerge in a project in a way which is very difficult when your mind is cluttered with the school run and the annual report. So I'll be leading a new Itch of Writing Workshop Retreat from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th May 2015, at Retreats for You in Sheepwash, North Devon, and I'd love to have some blog readers there too. We'll have exclusive use of Deborah... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2015 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Go for it Gill! I learnt a lot from studying memoir and life-writing, when I had to teach it. You could have a look at Alexandra Fuller's Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight, for a lovely example of memoir which is written much like a novel, and another very different one is Angelica Garnett's Deceived with Kindness.
1 reply
I haven't really got a talk, I'm afraid - just assorted powerpoints which don't make much sense on their own. But I didn't say much I haven't said here one way or another.
1 reply
I do rather agree that The Honourable Schoolboy sits oddly between the other two - less centrally centred on Smiley, for one thing. Also I felt when I read it that the local colour and detail were just beginning to overweight things. I must dig up that interview - he doesn't give many, and he's always so interesting.
1 reply
The writer's reason against this was that we don't know what people intend to say until they have said it. That's idiotic. The speaker may not know, but the narrator does. Besides, prose narrative isn't real life - it isn't even a movie. Having said that, I realise that I very, very rarely do have the "The man said" before the speech. It does feel more awkward to me. But I would defend absolutely the possibility of putting it first, if it was right for the rhythm and shape of the overall sentence and paragraph.
1 reply
Glad it was useful, WG!
1 reply
I spent Saturday at the Getting Published conference, and in the course of a day of workshops, one-to-ones and industry panels, I mentioned several blogposts. So this is a list of all the ones I can remember. There are lots more in the Tool-Kit, but if I mentioned another one and you can't find it, do just mention it in the comments and I'll try to dig it up and post a link. SHOWING AND TELLING http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/showing-and-telling-the-basics.html PSYCHIC DISTANCE http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/psychic-distance-what-it-is-and-how-to-use-it.html HOW TO MAKE YOUR TELLING SHOWY http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2011/10/are-you-showing-too-much.html LONG SENTENCES http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2008/09/in-praise-of-the-long-sentence.html HANDLING LONG SENTENCES http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2009/09/the-right-words-in-the-right-order.html FREE INDIRECT STYLE http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2013/09/free-indirect-style-what-it-is-and-how-to-use-it.html POINT OF... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2015 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Yesterday evening I spent a couple of hours working with the students of City University's collected Creative Writing MA courses. It's a two-year MA, structured round writing a complete project - novel, non-fiction or script, and my talk was called "Who's Telling the Story? Voice, viewpoint and narrative in fiction and creative non-fiction", and in the course of it, several blog posts were mentioned: I promised I'd post the links when I got a moment. So, here they are, and if anyone who was there can remember one I've forgotten, then do mention it in the comments, and I'll dig... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2015 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Click here for the full (or rather, rapidly filling) Itch of Writing Bookshelf, and if you're looking for books to help with your writing directly, then click through to Books for Writers. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, by John le Carré 1969, or thereabouts: a damaged man arrives at a run-down West Country prep school, and a minor Secret Service thug, posted as a defector to Soviet Russia, turns up in Ascot with a nightmare of a story about the Secret Service. The only people who are - probably - sufficiently outside the new regime of London Circus to be trusted... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2015 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Thanks for coming by, Alexander. Yes, I think it's something that it's really useful - important, even - to learn to do in one's own writing. The wider the range you can manage - from the furthest-out to the furthest-in - the more tools you've got, haven't you. Good luck with trying it out.
1 reply
Come to think of it, may I base a blog post on your question? I think it's something that lots of writers struggle with.
1 reply
You're welcome! With not showing things, one thing to bear in mind is that if you make material events and physical things vivid for the reader, then they'll work directly on us: you may not need to touch on the MC's emotions at all. You may find that you need to write out the emotional content, as it were, to get to the heart of it, and then cut it back. It might help to think about who the narrator is talking to: imagine a frail, old, but much-loved Granny. You used to be very close: you WANT to convey what's really going on with you at the moment, because she was always the person you did talk to ... but you don't want to burden her with the whole story of your breaking heart/PTSD nightmares (this issue is where Stephen in The Mathematics of Love came from/ghastly Kafka-esque dealines with social services about the services your disabled son needs ... So you say, tight-lipped, "Well, it's being a bit complicated" and "The nights aren't so easy, but the sun always does rise in the morning" or whatever. Think Second World War Pilot, was what I used to tell myself, writing Stephen's letters, in particular. They were almost where it started: as an exercise in getting the reader to read things that someone isn't actually saying...
1 reply
First, can we get get a few things straight? Writing is not an exact science. It's not even an exact art. So it's next-to-impossible to say, "Doing X is Telling, doing Y is Showing", because "Telling" and "Showing" are convenient but wildly over-simple labels for effects on the reader which are achieved by a complex of means. Sorry. I prefer to call Telling "Informing" and sometimes "Explaining", and Showing "Evoking". Those are also over-simple, of course, but still, I think they help. Any text worth reading has writing which Tells, as well as writing which Shows. So you can ignore... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2015 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Yes - we always have one foot in how real people talk, and only the other one in the grammar book!
1 reply
I think publishers are concerned, in the sense that they're not blind to how difficult it is for their authors to make ends meet - the editors and agents aren't, at least. And they may anecdotally know of terrific writers who couldn't get that second contract, and gave up. They may even think sometimes, "Such a pity - I'd love to have seen what s/he would have done in later books." But the brute reality is that which authors get bought and what advances they earn is the product of much larger forces than the publishers can control.
1 reply
Blad you liked it, Jenny - thanks for sharing.
1 reply
Yay to lowering - or at least managing - expectations! And yes, also, to tackling it from the other end: cutting back on what you need to earn.
1 reply
Yes, they do that ... Such fun!
1 reply
Oh, thank you! Yes, it should - corrected now!
1 reply
Yes, so true. And clichés are a vital part of writing: when that's just what you want for the voice or the character or whatever.
1 reply