My favourite blog for aspiring writers

emmadarwinAs an aspiring fiction writer my favourite blog I turn to for advice is This Itch of Writing by Emma Darwin. Emma is a writer of historical fiction and a creative writing teacher, plus much more I am sure.

I love her blog for many reasons:

  • She is exceedingly generous in the writerly advice and the insights she shares.
  • I’m not sure how long she has been blogging (more than 10 years I think) but her easily searchable archive and ‘tool kit’ is extensive.
  • She doesn’t deal with with the vast array of subject matter superficially, but offers in-depth and considered explanations. She deals with the nitty-gritty of the craft of writing.
  • She gives examples, obvious but not always done, which are very illuminating.
  • I particularly liked her original perspective on Psychic Distance, at least I had not seen it described in quite that way before. Below is an extract but there is much more on this subject on her blog.

‘Psychic Distance is a concept which John Gardner explores in his book The Art of Fiction, and I think it’s absolutely crucial, not difficult to understand, and not nearly talked about enough. You’ll also find it called Narrative Distance because, basically, it’s about where the narrative (and therefore the reader) stands, relative to a character. Another way of thinking of it is how far the reader is taken, by the narrator, inside the character’s head. Gardner breaks it down thus:

  1. It was winter of the year 1853. A large man stepped out of a doorway.
  2. Henry J. Warburton had never much cared for snowstorms.
  3. Henry hated snowstorms.
  4. God how he hated these damn snowstorms.
  5. Snow. Under your collar, down inside your shoes, freezing and plugging up your miserable soul.’

       Emma Darwin

I also found her blog ‘The Fiction Editor’s Pharmacopoeia; diagnosing symptoms & treating the disease’ very useful, dealing with pace, voice, length, saggy middles and a host of other problems that might be ailing your novel and, importantly, how to treat them.

She also has a book ‘Get started in Writing Historical Fiction’ that I would recommend for any aspiring fiction writer.









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