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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
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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Carole, you're so welcome. The OU MA is very good, but commentaries are strange things, and it's not obvious how to go about one! Very best of luck with the course, and your writing in general.
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Hi Martin - and great to see you here. I think any of us can slip into over-writing for all manner of reasons, which of course can mean all sorts of different kinds of over-writing, and cures for the over-writing. Good luck with the editing!
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That's so interesting, Deepam - and the link is definitely thoguht-provoking. I do agree that think about the overal question of what you're trying to do can really help. And I'm glad the site's being useful!
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So glad it's helpful, Mary, and thanks very much for the sharing!
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Oh, excellent! See you there!
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So you (or your agent) has sent your work out to ... someone. A magazine, a competition, a publisher, a broadcaster, a film company, an agent you hope for, an author whose quote you desperately want for the cover, even a mentor or editor you've hired yourself. You are now officially in the condition known as Waiting To Hear. Welcome to a minor and largely unacknowledged room in Writer's Hell. Or rather, two rooms. You may have a short, relatively easy time in Limbo, when you genuinely know you won't hear: the stretch before the competition deadline or the closure... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
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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...
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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