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Emma Darwin
I write fiction and creative non-fiction, and I live in South East London.
Interests: fiction, creative non-fiction, novels, short fiction, short stories, memoir, historical fiction, academic writing, writing, reading, editing, teaching
Recent Activity
Yes "as well as" is very weird. Thanks for the typo! I was writing this one in parallel with the Ten Line-Edits, and got in SUCH a muddle with two slightly different versions of the same stuff.
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Well, there's loads of things we are precise with which our grandparents, say, would think we weren't. And I don't give a hoot about split infinitives or prepositions-at-the-end stuff; they don't mess with meaning. But I don't think it has evolved as far as there being no distinction, so we might as well use it while we have it.
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I did a bit of googling - not least to check my understanding was right - and was suprised there wasn't more than very basic stuff online. And that I didn't always agree with!
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So glad it was useful for you, Sally. Maybe it would help to lay out for yourself what the advantages of braiding would be - how much it would enrich the reader's experience, to offset the slightly trickier juggling for both writer and reader. Versus, obv., the advantages of a triptych where it's clear but you've less scope for enriching juxtapositions and contrasts and parallels. Of course what they really come down to is... WHY are these three stories all in the same book? What are you really, truly, hoping to do for the reader by breaking the basic rule that everything in a novel belongs to one story? And when you're really clear on that, you may find it's obvious which of the structural possibilites will serve that overall purpose best.
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Oh, I've never seen Lucia - but yes, you're so right, that sounds as if it would have been much better. No sense of drama... I wonder why Donizetti & co did it that way. Of course, in the original Greek drama no one ever actually DID anything on stage at all.
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You're welcome, Sean. I'm beyond being driven nuts by it, but it helps to have written those posts, so I can now argue against it a bit more coherently.
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Oh, thanks so much for sharing this post, Deanne. It's so lovely to see new readers here! I hope they find more stuff to help them in the Tool-Kit.
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No, they so wouldn't. Do we need to know they're from Asda? One trick is to smuggle that info in under the guise of a thought which is doing something else - about their amazing smoothness, or their horrible scratchiness, or whatever... Good luck with what one distinguished writer/teacher whose name escapes me calls the "whittling up"!
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I think the where-a-pause should go isn't a bad test, in fact, because in speaking we very naturally articulate the grammar... But, yes, we do depend on a reader who runs by the same conventions as we do, which you can't always guarantee... Glad it was useful, anyway!
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You're welcome, Priscilla - glad it was helpful. May/might gets lots of people confused - though I find it much more worrying how many people don't even realise they ARE confused!
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You're welcome, Sandra - and how weird that readers complain? Are you writing historical fiction? Some readers feel it to be "modern", but I think it depends hugely on what the rest of the voice is like. It probably doesn't work if you're channelling Paul Kingsnorth and his Anglo-Saxon...
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Indeed you do, Paula! Glad you like the article.
Toggle Commented Jan 5, 2020 on Are you Showing too much? at This Itch of Writing
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:)! You're welcome, John - glad it helped. Best of luck with the revisions.
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It's an almost embarrassingly easy way to get oneself to think more about that side of one's prose, I think. You don't have to have the least ambition to be a poet to benefit. Good luck!
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Whether you're getting to grips with a wild NaNoWriMo first draft, or have seized the time between Christmas and New Year to do some hardcore editing, the chances are you've come across certain things that you always do not-quite-right that first time: the things you have to hunt out and interrogate. Note that I don't say "hunt out and eliminate". There's no "mistake" in writing that wouldn't be the perfect thing in the right place and time, for the right book - but some things are more common and more commonly mistaken, than others, and these are the ten line-edit... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2020 at This Itch of Writing
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Hi John Well, I think thats a very good example of exactly when passive voice is just fine, and I think they read very well. What matters is the pictures, and what has happened to them: who hung them there is irrelevant, so "were hung" is right. Or you could cut the "were", so it's "Very few pictures hung upon the walls" which is grammatically active, but makes very little difference otherwise. And technically the second sentence isn't grammatically passive anyway. Simplifying for clarity, look at "Dust has stained the glass": that's active voice: the active subject is "dust" which is great - makes us feel the absence of people in this setting, the fact that dust and grime have been allowed to get on with it undisturbed by humans. Super-boring nerdery - the "they" of "who they showed" technically refers back to "years of dust and grime", which isn't quite what you mean. But it's one of those ones where virtually all readers wouldn't trip up on it. Hope that helps! Emma
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So glad it's being useful for you, Derrick.
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Hi Paul - you're welcome, but oh blurgh! to the rejection. Sorry about that - it always stings, as well as being frustrating! I think temporary shelving is a very good idea: if you're working on something else, then you'll learn things by solving its problems which should shed new light on the first one - and/or, yes, make contacts for you which can help with One. Best of luck with the next stage!
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Hi Claire - Focalisation is a term that's been borrowed from Narratology, but it's very useful. Closely allied to our native ideas of Point-of-View - but it allows for the idea that the focalisor of a passage may be different from the narrator. So if the narrator of Emma is "Jane Austen", the passage about "Mr Knightley must marry no one but herself!" is nonetheless focalised through Emma. Not that the narrative has to be flavoured with Emma's voice and thought, as it is in that Free Indirect Style example. If the narrative just said "Emma walked on down the street, then caught sight of Mrs and Miss Bates, arguing with a carrier about the price of a letter to London" - it would still be focalised through Emma, although not using FIS. Hope that helps?
Toggle Commented Dec 7, 2019 on Welcome to my blog at This Itch of Writing
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Yes, exactly - I'm so glad you got that from the blog. As the last section explains, sometimes that's exactly what you want: the sense of someone's growing realisation. On the whole, writers more often put filtering in where it isn't wanted, than leave it out where it might be effective - but the fact that sometimes it is just the thing means that you have to do a "filter-ectomy" on a case-by-case basis, not as a blanket excision.
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Glad you approve, Michael!
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Hi Victoria - I would say that if it feels right as you go, keep going. If you ARE hearing a little voice that says "This feels a bit rushed" about something, pause, briefly. Is it obvious what's too skeletal, what you're skimming over, what feels a bit threadbare, a bit like signals for psychology and setting, rather than them being really evoked? If so, maybe spend a little time focussing and imagining more deeply, to see if you can make things more substantial. But keeping going is probably more important, so don't get too diverted. If it's not obvious what's wrong, then I suggest that you just make a note that you DID have that worry - and keep going. When you get to the end and go back over it, perhaps if you later get beta-readers, you may find that your instincts were right. Or you may find they weren't: that spare prose and swift storytelling are just your style. That's also the stage to worry about actual wordcounts for whatever publishers or formats you're trying for. Good luck!
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First things first. If you're busy with a shitty first draft, you will probably not want to get stuck into any of these just now - though some of them are just the right size for a stocking. Hurling a story down any old way that comes, "building up, not tearing down" as the NaNoWriMo website puts it, is usually not helped by an attack of standing-outside-it-ness, of self-consciousness, or a cool new costume for your Inner Critic. But for the rest of us (and NaNo-ers in due course) these are all books that I've read recently which have been... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2019 at This Itch of Writing
Tony, yes, very good point. I might add something about that above. It's easy, when you're inside the industry, to kind-of know what the proper prizes are, and what the dodgy ones look like, but it's not so obvious when you're only just finding your feet. Self-pubbers, particularly, are at risk, perhaps.
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This is the ninth and last in a series of posts inspired by my new book, This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin, which was published in February. In each post I'll try to shed light not only on the practicalities of what happens when your book is being published, but also the sometimes surprising ways that each stage of the writing life can affect you and your writing. The whole Being Published series is here. If book prizes have become an ever more visible feature of the literary landscape, that's partly just a result of the industry's ever... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2019 at This Itch of Writing