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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
Cat, you're welcome. And yes, donations to all good causes are very welcome!
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At the Authors for Grenfell auction, I offered to write a bespoke blog post for the bidder of the largest amount. The auction has closed now, having raised over £180,000, but the Red Cross's London Fire Appeal is very much open, and the needs of the victims don't vanish as the headlines do, so do please click through to donate. And for a lovely story of the power of social media in these things, click here. My idea, in offering the blog post, was that the bidder would get from some personalised advice. But the winning bidder turned out to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
As part of an initiative to raise money for the Red Cross London Fire Relief Fund, on behalf of victims of the dreadful fire in North London, Authors for Grenfell Tower have got together to auction signed books, characters, events, critiques and many more writerly treats, in aid of the fund. I am offering you the chance to have your own, bespoke Itch of Writing blogpost, addressing a personal writing problem of your own. I'm happy to include your name and internet links, or for it to be anonymous, as you prefer. If you'd like to bid, the page is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Hi Connie - glad you like the blog. I'm afraid the story isn't anywhere beyond that notebook, I'm afraid. I should type it up, but haven't got round to it! It was an experiment, but surprisingly easy to do, and reads surprisingly normally, IYSWIM. But it was only a little'un - maybe 500 words. Not sure how sustainable it would be over a longer stretch.
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Oh, I don't know the audio book - I love Jenny Agutter's reading, and she would be perfect! As you say, the reader/listener needs to "hear" what the ostensible narrator doesn't...
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Hi Carol - glad you like the post, and many thanks for the mention!
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Among teachers of English at school-level, using a thesaurus is a Good Thing, being a means of enlarging children's vocabulary. But a ticked box for the maximum number of different words on the page is a poor substitute for teaching genuinely good writing, so among serious writers, and teachers of writing, using a thesaurus is often spoken of as a Very Bad Thing. And when you consider the thesaursed version of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", which floats round the internet attributed to John Raymond Carson, you can see why: Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivific, Fain would I fathom thy nature specific.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Isn't The Friday Gospels great?!
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The next Words Away Salon is less than a week away, on Monday, 5th June, and I'm delighted that Kellie and I will be joined by Claire Scobie, who's a novelist and mentor, to talk about World Building: Bringing Characters and Places Alive. If you're within reach of the Tea House Theatre, Vauxhall, do come along: we start at 7.30 - though the Tea House is open all day - and over wine, beer, tea and cake, we kick the evening's topic around, between the guest, Kellie and me, and you the audience. It's all very informal and great fun,... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2017 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Gill, I do think it's partly a matter of taste, and habit ... although I think, too, that sometimes the writer is the worst judge of what is enough detail for the reader, because the latter doesn't yet know the patterns and facts that the details are part of, which the writer does. Indeed a writer friend I admire was being exasperated about things her editor was asking her to spell out a bit more, and was quite taken aback when most of the rest of the writers in our group said, "Well, actually, I need that too: to know that she's by the window, not just floating in space, and that he went into the room before he spoke to her" or whatever. The dialogue thing ... I had the self-same run-in with my supervisor on my MPhil. FWIW, I analysed my own intutiion and found, though that although I don't write "said he" and "said I" - it does sound VERY quoth-he-ish to me - I do happily write "said Jo". But only AFTER a speech. Before it, it, again, feels very self-consciously old-fashioned... So there's no absolute logic to these things...
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Isn't it fantastic? SO many revelations. And yes, the fractal thing was a big lightbulb moment for me. Good luck for finding your way out!
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Yes - if the character's realisation that change might have been possible but they haven't grasped/couldn't grasp that possibility, makes the reader feel that teetering on the edge... and thwarting, then that's a story doing its job, I reckon!
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Diane, you're welcome! "at the major hurdle in the climax of the novel my (flawed but sassy and strong) heroine pretty much gave up! " Oh, yes, I think we've all done that kind of thing on occasion. Well done for spotting it in your own work - sometimes it takes an editor, or your very best friend ...
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Michael, I'm so glad the posts are making sense. And, yes, I think watching out for how good writers do it is the key to learning to do it better oneself. As you've realised, they're SO much more varied, and subtle, than any "rules" you might be told. Which isn't to say that true head-hopping (as opposed to well-handled switches) doesn't need a bit of work. I must look out the Gaiman: I'm always after good examples of PoV moves, to thrust in the facesw of the "Don't" brigade!
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Gouri, thanks so much for sending students here - that's lovely to know. And yes, it's all about deciding when to do which, isn't it. No blanket 'don'ts' here on the Itch!
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Marian, that's very interesting. I love a long sentence, as you'll know if you've been digging in the blog. There are several posts in the Tool Kit, on working with sentences, which might help you to get yours under control! http://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/resources.html But, yes, I think sometimes sentences are too long because they're subtly repeating and elaborating what is essentially a single point.
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Jacqui, so glad you're finding the blog useful - and yes, the Itchy commenters are such a rich resource! I'm so grateful to them.
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I'm with you on Wolf Hall - and I think it highlights the different ways third and first person play out, in the different tenses. And I'd always say, if a first draft pours out - especially a first draft of a first novel - then let it. Everything can be changed later! Best of luck!
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Inès, you're welcome - and it's lovely to know that editors are finding my posts useful too! Good luck with the teaching.
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Lisa, I must go back to Life after Life. I love how she writes, and I started it with great excitement, but at a moment when my reading time was super-fragmented, and I just couldn't read enough at a time to really relish all that fascinating layering, and just-slightly-different details, and to nonetheless hang onto the constants. Not at all the fault of the book, but of my situation. I must find myself a hammock on a nice summery Sunday, and read it all in one great swallow. Will be lovely!
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Anna, you're welcome. I hadn't thought of the Wylde, but that's a good example, thank you!
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Chris, you're welcome, and the Doerr does sound interestingly non-linear. Must look out for it!
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But they're good thoughts! I think it often only takes a glimmer, for the reader - the experienced reader, at least - to feel safe enough, to feel that there IS some kind of order and reason for things being like this. To trust the writer, as it were.
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No, you wouldn't! :)
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