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October 2011

September 2011

Now tweeting only from @emma_darwin

A quick note to say that if you follow this blog by way of Twitter, I'm consolidating my two personae by tweeting only from @emma_darwin. If you want to keep on getting a tweet when posts go up here on This Itch of Writing, then please follow me as @emma_darwin. The old @itchofwriting persona will gradually fall silent. I feel quite sad about losing @itchofwriting, in a way. But so many friends follow both, and then get a flood of tweets from both, that I think it's time to end this rather schizophrenic setup. And if you're reading this, and... Read more →


Jerusha Cowless, Agony Aunt: "I'm not a writer any more, I'm a failure."

Oh, Jerusha, I hardly dare write to you, because I'm not a proper writer, not any more. I don't belong on this blog, or the postgrad course I'm doing, or anywhere. Two years work on the novel, and it's a failure. I'm a failure. A friend has just bagged a two-book deal after an auction. My novel's been rejected everywhere it's gone out to. I can't start something new because all my mental and physical energy - my very breath - is on hold for this one. I know that my writing's good, and I've worked and polished and re-worked... Read more →


Getting Fresh

Every now and again an aspiring writer says in my hearing that they're afraid to revise a piece too much, in case they "lose the freshness". And there are understanding nods round the writers' circle or the class, while I try not to say that if the piece as it stands is freshness, then give me over-ripeness any day. Instead I gently explain that there is yet more which could be done to the piece (any piece), such as X and Y, and if Y then Z.... and indeed all those and more must be done if the writer's ever... Read more →


Coming events and courses, Autumn 2011

Well, well, well, it's that busy time of year again. Here's some of what I'm doing, alongside writing a novel, teaching for the Open University, blogging, tweeting, cluttering up the forums at WriteWords... and occasionally remembering to breathe and feed the family. If you're free and feel like coming along, do come and say hello: HAVANT LITERARY FESTIVAL FACT AND FICTION: the role of the historical novelist Thursday 22nd September, 7.30pm, United Reformed Church Hall, Havant How can history be used to illuminate the present? Why did Shakespeare ruin the reputation of Richard III? These and many other questions will... Read more →


Jerusha Cowless, Agony Aunt: "Can I start with a character who isn't an MC?"

Dear Jerusha: Can you have an opening chapter in the point-of-view of someone who isn't the MC? [Emma notes: that's main character, not master of ceremonies] I'll try to explain. My opening chapter is in the point-of-view of a doctor. Her patient, James, is a main character, but is unconscious after an overdose of illegal drugs, and the scene is with James's family, in the hospital. The whole scene is from the doctor's point-of-view, but one of the family there, Edward, is also a main character. The reason I did it this way is because I needed a negative view... Read more →


Making a Scene

One of the things that's often recommended to neophyte writers of novels is to have one scene per chapter. And someone then asks "What's a scene?" and someone else "How long should a chapter be?" And they're right that the two things are interrelated, but I don't think one-scene-per-chapter is necessarily the best solution. And the length any chapter "ought" to be is actually determined by what you think a chapter is. So, what's going on? We all know what a scene is in a play, of course... or do we? English drama packs multiple comings and goings into a... Read more →