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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
Lorna, you're welcome. Showing and Telling works just the same in first person. When you're Showing, you'd normally pick things which would come naturally for your narrator to notice, given who they are: the kinds of details and physical and mental experience that is natural for their personality. When you're Telling, it would be Told in the way that this character's personality would make them Tell it: what's important, what they wouldn't mention. You might find my post on point-of-view with this kind of narrator helpful: http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2011/10/point-of-view-narrators-2-internal-narrators.html Good luck!
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You're welcome, Rowena. And many a great book has been built on a sea voyage ... Treasure Island?
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Jan, I think one of the arts of writing a novel is somehow finding the way to make the along-the-way stuff vital and interesting without losing our sense of the journey. Easier said than done, I know, but I think that's where the sense of trying to reach a distant port is helpful, because it can draw in more diversions and so on than other metaphors. The other art is to pick a journey which WILL allow you to see interesting along-the-way stuff, without being diverted!
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Tom, that's such a great quote, thank you! Definitely one for my collection on this topic.
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Jemma, you're welcome. It's certainly helped me to clarify what needs to be going on. As you say, "conflict" gets defined either so widely that it's no help, or so narrowly that it's no help...
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Thanks so much for forwarding it, David. And yes, my head might explode now...
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;) Yes - I was thinking of Golding's Rites of Passage as I wrote it... Good luck with off-loading the ones who are surplus to requirements!
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Glad you liked it, Abi. I do think it's helpful.
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Oh, I'm so glad you like the post - and I sympathise about the questionnaires. I've never had a questionnaire offered me (maybe because I only did two writing courses before I was published) but when I've seen what others have been offered my skin starts to itch! You might like this more recent post, on character-in-action: http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2013/03/characterisation-in-action.html
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It's a cracker, isn't it - so grateful to Susannah Rickards for telling me about it. Although I must say I only read it on my e-reader as the only way to get hold of it! I have come to hate e-books, which I'd never have expected till I had one!
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Looks fine to me - the period comes over strongly in the setting, while the tense and the sentences structures are more modern, but in a way which is pretty much transparent to us. And as Jemma says, the past tense bit works just fine, in evoking how the factory used to be, relative to how it is now. Lovely stuff.
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Tnanks so much for linking - that was great, and I'm so glad you found my post helpful.
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You're welcome, Billy, and thanks for the link. I enjoyed your post.
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Love the Chekhov. I had an interesting time hunting it down for Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction, and as is the way of such things, it's a bit more complicated than that - he put something similar into the Seagull. William Carlos Williams, another Imagist, said "No ideas but in Things", and I don't think it'll quite do (although as Philip Gross says, that doesn't mean "no ideas".) As you say, lots of poets handle abstractions beatuifully. And yes, I like the peaks/valleys analogy. Very interesting. And highlights the way we need both: it's about understanding them both, and learning to choose which you need when.
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Well there's no law that says you HAVE to do any of these things - I was only trying to sort out what's in the basket of things which lit fic shares. Any one (or two or three) of the traits I've suggested may just not be something that your fiction does, which is fine. What I DO think, is that it's a mistake to put any references in that don't come naturally. You can't legislate for anyone deciding to call your work pretentious, but I think if a reference comes naturally because it's already part of your mental furniture, then it's much more likely that it will fit naturally and easily into all the other aspects of the story which, by definition, have also arrived as a consequence of your mental furniture. It's like the difference betweeen the house that's full of gorgeous things from India because the owner loves India and has been there umpteen times, and the house that's full of gorgeous things from India because that's this year's "look", and the expensive interior decorator has "sourced" some nice pieces from a warehouse in Bradford.
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You know how books about writing novels and stories always talk about "conflict"? And you eye your delicate love story or strange evocation of an agoraphobic fantasist, and wonder how you're supposed to get the Kalashnikovs or the divorce-court drama in there? I know why it gets said - I know why this issue matters, and matters hugely - but I've never found "conflict" as a term particularly helpful: so often the human dynamics which drive good stories just don't seem to file under that heading. "Obstacles" is perhaps a more useful term, when we're talking about plot and story,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2015 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
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Oh yes. Hist fickers are so prone to it - we love our darling research, and soooo want to put it all out there. And I mean ALL!
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Yes, that's a good point about the saleability of a real place - the non-fiction hook, as they call it. And I totally agree that if you're going to do something that people will notice, then doing it whole-heartedly can be more convincing.
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Yes, that is tricky isn't it. But I don't think that realism is only the product of real names etc. It's as much in how you give us the materials for the imagined state to re-create in our minds. If the "reality and detail" as John Gardner puts it, is really strong, it'll pass the test of "as if real" in our heads.
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That's a good point which I probably should have made in the post - liberating yourself can mean both greater detachment, and therefore a more successfully, fully, imagined story.
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Ah, yes, Saint Joan Aitken. Although, as I've just said in the book about writing Hist Fic, alternative history and things like steampunk only work if they're anchored in real history in a very real and believable way, so that the "control experiment" aspect, with the things which are different, can work.
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Yes, Dublin obviously does very nicely out of him now.
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There is always the option of just demolishing the flyover. I do think there comes a point where you may have to do a profit-and-loss assessement: what do I gain for the reader who knows the area from this inconvenient fidelity to the material facts? Versus what does the reader who doesn't know the area lose, by my compromising how good the story could be if I ignore the damn flyover?
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Yes to the guidebook! Sounds like a plan.
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Yes, that's often the solution, isn't it - take a real place, and slide a made-up sibling in between two real ones.
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