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 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
Paavan, you're so welcome - very best of luck with your decision, and any course you do.
1 reply
Hi Melissa - and you're so welcome! Late to wich you best of luck with it, but I do hope all goes well!
1 reply
Christine - oh, of course the reader needs to know that kind of thing. The reader's eyes only glaze over if you're lobbing the detail at them as detail. If we get it from how the characters necessarily talk about it, as part of how they act, then it's just part of the story. You might find this post useful, though it's about description in general, not explicitly geography. But the basic ideas - using a character's perceptions, sneaking info in in a sentence which is apparently about something else, and so on - are the same. https://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2012/06/how-would-you-describe-it.html And this, which is some questions to stress-test the details you've put in, might be useful too: https://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2013/01/six-questions-to-ask-your-description.html
1 reply
You're welcome, Jade. Best of luck with it all.
1 reply
You're welcome, Sue.
1 reply
So glad it's being useful, Roger. I hope things are going with with the editing!
1 reply
Hi Caroline - it's a reference to the time that you overhear someone saying something in a shop or a cafe which gets you wondering what the rest of the story is.
1 reply
So glad it's useful to you, Zohre! In terms of the job market... If you're doing a PhD as a way to get a novel published it would be a gamble: certainly feedback from your supervisor should help you to make the novel better, and the reflective side of things might also help you to develop as a writer. But there are NO guarantees: to get published, a commercial publisher has to decide that your book will make them money. And lots of what's most interesting in creative writing as a discipline in universities is not necessarily what makes a novel the most desirable to the largest number of possible readers, so the goals don't necessarily align. If you're doing a PhD as a way to begin a career in academic creative writing, it's true that these days a doctorate is pretty much essential - though many who end up teaching in universities start from writing, and only do the PhD later. But you will also need a track record in published creative writing - not necessarily a mainstream publishing book contract, but certainly short stories, competition wins, etc., small press publication, that sort of thing. Any job vacancies would be expecting that. But there would be nothing (except time and energy) to stop you tackling that in parallel with your PhD, plus you might be able to pick up some teaching experience, which would help with applications for post-doc work. But the academic CW world, I get the impression, is suffering from the twin curses of the general attack on Humanties as a discipline, and covid-related shrinking of departments. So it's not an easy path to follow either. Unless you've already got a track-record of success in publication of your creative writing, you might do better not to try to go straight into a CW PhD, but to take some time to find your feet in creative writing - and then you'll be better placed to work out what you want to get out of one, and which program is mostly likely to give you that. Good luck!
1 reply
Hi Heather You're so welcome - and my goodness, what a complicated situation to be in. Boiling something down into a proposal form is hard, isn't it - even though it's a good thing, really, that you've already got the actual thesis bubbling away in your head! Would it help to try to formulate the research question into a single sentence? (a bit like the intriguing, not summarising, kind of elevator pitch?) You could then have a think about what you would then need to set out on the form - which would be the things that a potential supervisor, reading it, would thing, "Well, she'll have to do X and consider Y, and take into account Z". Does that make any kind of sense? (I have lockdown brain too, though I'm lucky in having big children who look after their own lockdown lives!) Very best of luck with it, anyway! Emma
1 reply
You're welcome, Barbara. I think even for people who don't naturally do their imagining-on-paper in this form, it can be a really good way of un-daunting oneself, whether you're building up from one act, or breaking an overall story into smaller more manageable chunks.
1 reply
Welcome back! In this post we're going to start thinking about the move which to many beginners seems horribly daunting: going from thinking at scene-size, chapter-size, story-scale, to a full-scale novel. But don't be scared: each post in my Write Your First Novel is a series of short prompts and exercises which are designed to lead, step by small step, towards the first draft of a novel. It doesn't assume you already know the technical vocabulary that writers use, and the full series to date is collected together here. One more thing before we start. Everything on This Itch of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2020 at This Itch of Writing
Hi Lance - isn't Psychic Distance amazing? You're so not alone in finding it helpful, and I'm so glad the blog's being useful. And sorry-not-sorry that the work got postponed: I hope it got done in the end, and good luck with the writing! Emma
1 reply
So glad it's useful, Rose. It certainly took me by surprise, when I realised you could turn the whole thing on its head and regard it as a positive sign. And the thought that it's actually built into the system, not one's own failure to cope or a nasty external thing, is oddly freeing - at least it is for me. OK, it just comes with the territory.
1 reply
Dear me, Priscilla! The poor dear IC must be really, really worried about how dangerously good this is to be saying that kind of thing...
1 reply
Glad you like it, Tony! Yes, I think if being paid for your work at all is the first thing that can disarm the Inner Critic, being paid enough to live on is the next one. "There - see, IC? You don't have to worry, I've got this. You can relax."
1 reply
Hi Sharon - oh, I think you're so not alone in being stuck in this loop! Some thoughts, always bearing in mind that I don't know you and your sister, or the work, I would say: Write what needs to be written. If it needs to be written, then it doesn't matter what other people think of it. It needs to be written for you. Finish it. That may mean accepting that some of the words you write are placeholders for when you know what the right words are. [Don't forget you can always make a note, in square brackets, say, for easy searching later, that these aren't quite the right words. That appeases the Inner Critic, while not rolling over to its judgement] It also may mean that you need to pause the producing of the text, to think a bit about where you're heading for, and the main stages of how you're going to get there. (Notice how I'm not saying "planning" because that can sound too concrete and inorganic) Worry about absolutely everything except finishing it, later. You can change every single word in second draft, if that's what it takes. But you won't know what the changes will be till you've finished it. See the "for their reader" link at the top of the post for a bit more about that. When you do know what it will take which you haven't quite got the hang of, consider stepping aside from the text itself, and working on certain craft skills, or ideas, using material not in the book. Write a short story about something different, take a poetry course, brainstorm, freewrite, mind-map, whatever. That way you're free to explore and practice, without the constraints of having to fit the boundaries of the actual book. GOOD LUCK!
1 reply
I know so many aspiring writers who would say that their problem is not getting going: good ideas come along often, and for a while they find it easy and exciting to devote lots of their available time to the project. But "for a while" is the problem: their past is littered with brave beginnings that petered out, half-filled notebooks, unfinished drafts, and finished first drafts that they never revised "for their reader". So I thought I'd pause the Write Your First Novel course, for a moment - I promise I'll get back to it - and have a quick... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2020 at This Itch of Writing
10
You're so welcome, Jessica. I'm really glad it's so useful, and very best of luck for the next stage!
1 reply
Rob - ridiculously late to come on this, apologies! But, yes, that'll teach the folk who think Hemmingway is all about short-and-simple...
1 reply
I'm so glad you agree with me! I think when either long or short becomes a fetish, or even just a default, it's bad news: each has its uses, and the things it's not so good at. The mistake is to make a blanket rule in either direction. Except that, of course, by mathematical definition, there are many different ways to build a long sentence, and only a few ways to build a short one.
1 reply
I think "wouldn't've", though exactly how we say it, takes perhaps a bit too much unpacking for most readers' eyes? We do read whole words - experienced readers read whole sentences almost all at once, I gather research has shown. So it could just be that they tripped up on it, as any of us can when accents are rendered with too many, too variant, spellings.
1 reply
So glad it's been useful, Joan! And do check out the series on Narrators and PoV, if you haven't already. You might also like the PoV episode of my latest Starting Your Novel series - that series is for beginners, so it breaks it down into smaller bites still: https://emmadarwin.typepad.com/thisitchofwriting/2020/04/write-your-first-novel-part-seven-point-of-view.html Good luck with it!
1 reply
Emma, you're very welcome! I think "how about you send me a proposal" is a good place to start, even if you're not sure when you want to do a PhD at all. There's nothing like trying to shape and write things down in actual sentences, for revealing what you think... Good luck if you go for it!
1 reply
Yes, I think people who are used to learning to do things where it's clearer what the outcome is going to be, and what the path will be to get there - which is most people - can find it very weird, spending time in the ambiguous, uncertain spaces of creative work, where you have to keep going forward with faith, as it were, even though you're not at all sure which direction "forward" actually is, let alone whether you will figure it out, even though you don't know what "is" is, but somehow, sort of... A friend of mine did a Creative Writing PhD based on taking one of those Novel in a Month books, and doing exactly what it said, and seeing what happened. I think they may work, in a way, if you embrace the Shitty First Draft principle - the NaNoWriMo idea of sketching out a plan, and then just diving in and scribbling, "Building without tearing down" as the NaNo folk put it. What you won't get in a month is a book that's anywhere remotely near being worth sending out to find a publisher...
1 reply
In Part Nine we're going to look at how you turn a second draft ("for your reader") into something closer to a third draft ("for the person you need to persuade"). Each post in my Write Your First Novel is a series of short prompts and exercises which are designed to lead, step by small step, towards the first draft of a novel. It doesn't assume you already know the technical vocabulary that writers use, and the full series to date is collected together here. One more thing before we start. Everything on This Itch of Writing is free; I... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2020 at This Itch of Writing