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Emma Darwin
I write novels and short fiction and I live in South East London.
Recent Activity
I should imagine he does - most writers do. It's possible to write a story without using it, but a writer who can't handle free indirect style is very limited in what they can do. And yes, it's basically a way that the narrator's voice and the character's voice can be integrated so the text conveys both at once. Very clever - and yet to us now it seems so simple and natural that lots of writers use it without even knowing that's what they're doing!
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The paper is because it's infinitely quicker and more intuitve and expressive to comment and correct with a pen, on others' work as much as my own. And if I'm reading in the garden I can't see the screen properly half the time. Always supposing I've remembered to charge the laptop in the first place... I don't print out things like competition entries, if they don't arrive on paper, but I do for appraisals and teaching if I possibly can. Re spacing etc. those basic professional and/or academic guidelines have evolved for very good reasons: to make things more readable for people who have to read an awful lot. Obv if we personally prefer something odd, then that's different, but it's the writer's job to conform to normal professional presentation not the editor's/teacher's/agent's/judge's, any more than it's a teacher's job to run a student's essay through a spell checker, or to sort out the referencing, before marking it for - among other things - its spelling and referencing.
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Carol, yes, practicing what we preach ...
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Yes, I do agree about the professionalism. Although I also think that people vary wildly in how much they notice - let alone care - about that kind of thing. Some of the people who send out untidy MS don't know that one should care, some either consciously or unconsciously can't be bothered, but I do think that a few genuinely, honestly can't see it... "I always fear making comments like this that my own failings are going to come back and embarrass me." Yes, I'm waiting for someone to quote something I wrote on the Itch .. It's not mostly genuine conviction that makes me so ofen be saying "the opposite is also true" - but it has the side-effect of not offering quite so many hostages to fortune!
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Yes, absolutely - at the very least, you'll get all the credit that what you've said is capable of earning... I bet it wasn't crap, either! Similarly, I'm stupidly proud of my PhD examiners' comment that my thesis was "notably free of typographic errors" despite, as you say, that being in some ways the least important thing about it.
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;-)! I'll have to look out that Simmons, sounds fun. And yes, so often you don't need to have any sex at all. We tend to assume that leaving the reader outside the bedroom door (or not getting the characters anywhere near a bedroom in the first place!) stemmed from the prudishness of writers and readers, but there's an argument that it's actually more effective to leave the reader to write the scene for themselves...
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It is odd, isn't it, when you think that most readers have probably had sex of some kind at some point, but are still taken aback I did have extremely varied reactions to Anna and Theo's relationship in the modern strand of TMOL, but then that was part of the point... I suspect the reactions would be rather different if it was being published and reviewed now, so much has the climate changed.
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You're welcome. Mullan makes a lot of sense, I think, even though the structure of the book's a bit muddly - mostly I think because it's put together from his excellent newspaper column of the same name.
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I've had a lovely, tricky time as one of the judges for the Historical Novel Society's Award for 2014, and the results are here. There were some great stories, and we had a right old barny between the three of us to decide the winners. And then the other day... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at This Itch of Writing
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Thanks for that, Clare - yes, there's an "it" and a "between" missing: Fiction has the same complexity, because it tells stories through characters-in-action as drama does, but in nothing but words. It evolved so richly because it can evoke and depict consciousness as part of the action, and so there's always a tension between those two different jobs.
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Yes, it isn't really different: but it's difficult for many writers not to FEEL as if it's different - not least because some readers feel that way. It took me a while to discover that people might be taken aback, or even shocked - I was surprised when beta-readers and blog reviews of The Mathematics of Love commented on how frank the sex scenes were, because I hadn't specially noticed that, although obviously I'd taken a good deal of trouble over them. That was when I discovered that in some way they were felt to be different from other kinds of writing.
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Paul, isn't it lovely when you have characters who keep on wanting another story. And when sex in a novel isn't awkward or full of conflict... I think a lot of writers find it harder to write good, loving sex, I think, than nasty or bad sex. Which is a shame!
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Yes, super-close-in psychic distance helps enormously, I think. So much easier to avoid plumbing...
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;)
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;) Sandra. Yes, we all have our moments. (Though I'm very impressed that your moments are before breakfast...)
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You're welcome, Richard. I agree about the empowerment: sometimes it's mostly a matter of deciding firmly that the book is worth it, and it'll be fine...
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You're welcome, Marilyn. Isn't it odd how ideas float up from odd places...
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Thanks for that, Edith - that's a good 'un!
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I've pondered the odd business of writing sex before, but a good post by US writer Sebstien de Castell, about writing fight scenes, made me start thinking about it again. Sex and violence are hard (that's only the first double entendre) to write because both kinds of arousal involve an... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at This Itch of Writing
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Thanks, Victoria. John Mullan makes a point very strongly in his How Novels Work, about hist fic which has bibliographies and so on: that in some way it's admitting to feeling inferior, in its fictiveness, to non-fiction (which must have these things), and trying to shore up its credentials. I do understand novelists who feel they owe a debt to the historians they've drawn on, and won't pretend they haven't drawn from them. But at bottom I agree with Mullan: this is a novel, so it spins together imagined stuff and historical stuff, and re-told stuff to make a single rope. I don't see why I should give the reader the tools to separate them out again, just to prove that some of it really is history, honest!
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A friend, Colin Mulhern, who writes gritty contemporary YA fiction, posted in a Facebook group of writers: "I've got one idea that's been bouncing around for a while, but it's just a bit... predictable. I read a novel right out of my comfort zone while I was away, and loved... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2014 at This Itch of Writing
Thanks, Sandra! And best of luck with the family history novel - sounds exciting.
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Hema, that's interesting, though not everyone feels that way - I did a straw poll on a forum and about half of the aspiring writers said that they loved the mad first-draft stage, and hated the revising, and the other half said they loathed the incredibly hard work of the spinning-it-from-nothing first stage, and loved it once they had something concrete to work through. Of the published writers, the general feeling seemed to be that we'd learnt to love (or possibly hate!) both stages equally, a bit like loving different things in your different children...
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I do agree that something that's really your project will keep on nagging at you. On the other hand - some people's hearts apparently tell them to jump ship all the time, even if it is actually the Inner Critic in cardiac mode...
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