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
Competition in creative art is an odd concept, but also a natural one: since the beginning of time there's been a limit on the number of chops you can carve off a goat, and one place by the fire for a storyteller, because our audience - the Lord, the Lady and their top henchmen - had the other places ex officio. We compete, too, to increase that audience: the Palace fireplace is bigger than the Manor's, and the Royal cooks serve roast swan. But it's not only good practice to enter competitions: they can be a very good way to... Continue reading
Posted 5 hours ago at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Image
Well, thank you all so much! The recommendations you posted are fantastic, and show what a wonderfully wide range of tastes and interests The Itch's lovely blog-readers have. It's been very hard to choose, not least because I've read some books and authors, and not others (but will ... soon. Have you any idea what y'all have done to my to-be-read pile?). But the point of the exercise wasn't whether I agreed with you. As this is the Itch, and in the spirit of the Itch of Writing Bookshelp I focused on posts which got specific with why the book... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Laurel, you're welcome. With any luck, it will only be a few of these symptoms which you identify. Plus, of course, the same cures crop up several times. Applying psychic distance, for example, should cure all sorts of problems in one feel swoop, conceptually speaking!
1 reply
Oh, thank you! I hadn't spotted that the buttons had vanished! Thanks, Mary. Back now!
1 reply
Ah, don't feel daunted! It's more meant as a flowchart, than a checklist, if you like: "If you're feeling that the story is X, the Y or Z might be the cause"...
1 reply
The Society for Editors and Proof-readers is and does exactly what it says on the tin (and if you're thinking of self-publishing, it would be a very good place to start looking for proper professional help.) So I was delighted to be asked to speak to their Editing Fiction conference, exploring and explaining the decisions that we writers make, so that in tackling writing where the decisions aren't producing a good result, writers and editors can have a common language. As I was discussing in my post about giving feedback, it's one thing to recognise a problematic symptom: over-writing, say,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2016 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Glad you like it, Jennifer. I think it's very often not a question of "better" or "worse", but which nuance and emphasis suits your purposes. That's why I'm always wary of artists (including myself) who want to go back and edit long-ago work: it's a product of its time, and changing one set of emphases might well sit oddly with the original ways it worked elsewhere.
1 reply
You're welcome! So glad you enjoy it! I was interested to find just how long it took me to unpick a process that probably took 45 seconds in first draft, and two minutes later...
1 reply
Hi Lindon - and please don't apologise! I'm always so happy when people find an older post still relevant... On No.3, I do think it depends very much on the narrative. Some "narrators" are not an entity the reader is really conscious of at all, though we'd sometimes think of them as "the author". Wolf Hall would be an example: "Mantel", if you like, is completely subsubmed in transmitting Cromwell's take on this story: his voice and point-of-view. When the narrative steps back from the immediacy of the event, what is narrated ("told", if you like) is still Cromwell's. If the novel had been written with Thomas More as its viewpoint character, every word of the narrative would be different. Whereas, say, John LeCarré's Smiley novels spend a lot of time seeing the world in terms of Smiley's "take", but LeCaré also steps back from that, explaining Smiley, judging him and other things in the world, and generally operating as a separate consciousness and pair of eyes. He even choses, quite often, NOT to let us inside Smiley's head: to take the position of the observer of his actions, but not the reasons for those actions. Have a look here: http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2015/04/psychic-distance-how-terrific-writers-actually-use-it.html and you'll see what I mean: there's a bit of Wolf Hall, and in the opposite corner, both Fingersmith and Wise Children, where the character-as-internal-narrator is very clearly telling their story. In Wise Children overall, that's made explicit, whereas in Fingersmith it very carefully isn't, but it's still crucial. hope that helps!
1 reply
I've blogged about making your sentence work best on the reader's experience of the action. I've dissected a hundred miraculous words of Elizabeth Bowen, as an education in writing. And as a bit of writerly yoga, I've blogged a whole set permutations of a sentence, just to see how many are possible. But when you're working with the forward-moving quality of long sentences (so much more flexible and profluent than short ones!), there's another reason for practising. A sentence exists in time, and that includes the patterns built into it: not only the way the meaning accumulates as we read... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2016 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
If you're exempting yourself, I don't have to worry about it being more than a single sentence - and yes, the book's a cracker. I even referred to it in Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction, as you may have noticed!
1 reply
Thanks for this, Alyson - sounds great, but unfortunately it's not a single sentence. Do post a new editing version in a new comment if you'd like to!
1 reply
Fascinating stuff, Lucy, but unfortunately it's not a single sentence. Do post a new editing version in a new comment if you'd like to!
1 reply
Fantastic recommendations, everyone. Unfortunately, some aren't a single sentence, and I can't let those be in the running. But feel free to edit and post another version - and to those after this comment: PLEASE stick to the submission rules!
1 reply
You're welcome, MDZ - so glad you're finding the blog useful, and, it sounds, inspiring!
1 reply
That's a good tip, I think. "What job is this doing for the overall storytelling?", as it were. As long as it's doing something, you can slide all sorts of things in with it. One of the earliest alarm bells I worked out was that "Well, it shows her character" isn't really enough ... And yes, it's so frustrating when people basically wish your book was something else, and only have those spectacles on!
1 reply
Wow! But, yes, it's amazing what people don't see when they think their job is something else! They put the wrong spectacles on, as it were.
1 reply
Yes - non-fiction is different, isn't it. Though I guess there's an overlap in the research. (Although researching fiction works better when the fictional world is very alive, perhaps!) Sorry the new novel's being slow - it's a tiresome patch, isn't it!
1 reply
Emily, great that it hits the spot with you! I'm all for a bit of junk food, but at the right moment ... And you're welcome!
1 reply
Image
Update: 27th June 2016: The competition is now closed, and I announced the winners in this post. Thank you very much to everyone who entered; it's a fantastic list of recommendations which my bedside table does not thank you for, but I do. I would love this post to become a resource for the future, so do feel free to add more recommendations, and comment on other people's. I'll be back to post my two penn'orth in a few days. *** To celebrate the publication of Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction, which is now also out in the USA,... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2016 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
42
I blogged a few years back about how to process feedback, but the funny thing is that many writers find giving feedback more difficult than receiving it. Often, they're some of the nicest people: they're worried about hurting their fellow thin-skinned writers' feelings and know that hurting their confidence can be be genuinely damaging. Sometimes they're some of the most self-centred people: they can't be bothered to put in the mental work to understand what another writer is trying to do, and can only "correct" in terms of how they'd do it themselves. I've also given general tips about how... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2016 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Melissa, you're very welcome, and I'm so glad you go on finding the blog useful. Thank you very much for all the RTs and support.
1 reply
Interesting about exams - hadn't thought of that. But I do agree about things like walking and gymming being good: there's something about the rhythm of physical movement. I think it mops up the censor/left-brain thoughts (music does something similar for many of us) and then one's open to the creative thinking going wherever it will. I record ideas on my phone, if I'm out on a walk with no notebook. I have a friend who has what she calls her "plotting walk" - nice and familiar, the dogs enjoy it, and the solutions have an uncanny way of showing up about 15 minutes in ... There's certainly a place on the far side of the pond in my local park which I associate very strongly with the idea/solution suddenly arriving in my mental lap.
1 reply
Yes - thinking time of that sort is so valuable, and you need to keep the world out perhaps even more than you need to once you've got the momentum of some writing actually going: you can sustain the latter against interruptions, as one sentence leads fairly naturally, most of the time, to the next. Not so with the flow of the real creative thinking - that's too easily interrupted.
1 reply
You're welcome. The book's very good because it's aimed at adults - doesn't teach a particularly style of good-looking writing as we were taught at school or by our parents, but a way of working towards a handwriting which is personal and characteristic, as well as swift, sustainable and not painful!
1 reply