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Caitlin Irwin | University of Sunderland

English and Creative Writing BA (Hons)


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January 23rd, 2015

Longhorns Lunch Date

Longhorns is a fairly new place to eat in Newcastle (just a short journey on the metro from Sunderland). After hearing a ton of people raving about how amazing it was, we just had to go and check it out…


January 21st, 2015

Semester One

I handed in my assignments last week for the end of the first semester, so I decided I’d do a little blog talking about the modules and some of the things I’ve been doing.

January 9th, 2015

Divergent Review: I didn’t want to like it, but I did

I bought this book about a week ago, in the ‘teen fiction’ section and have read it in no more than four days (surprisingly quick, for me). I watched the film first, as I always do, and decided to read it. I enjoyed the film, so I was expecting to love the book, as the books are nearly always better – but in this case, I found the opposite. My reasoning is that the book is distinctively for a younger audience. Sounds obvious as it was in ‘teen fiction’, but unfortunately ‘teen fiction’ is not all that simple. This book seems to me to be for a very specific age of around 14-17 (just, 17). Some themes are far too much for an under 14, and others, far to childish for anyone over 17. This is my problem with teen fiction, I am a huge fan of ‘The Hunger Games’, as I think many people are, reaching into their twenties and beyond. I find this also to be true with ‘Twilight’ (although I hate the twilight series myself – but not because of the same reasons). Yet, these are both also classed as ‘Teen Fiction’, and their audiences span much further. It’s impossible to define what age range a teen fiction book will apply too, as some are directed towards younger teens 12-15, others, older, and others just a massive mix. But anyway, my problems with the teen fiction genre are for another day, I’m here to talk about ‘Divergent’.


I found this book an extremely easy read, a mixture of both good and bad writing, and as much as I found some of it ridiculous and stupid, it still entertained me. I’m going to start with the negative things. My problems started when I began to find little flaws, things not well explained, which I didn’t seem to notice in the film. Gutted. My first problem came with the character ‘Peter’. He is from Candour, the faction which whole-heartedly believe in the truth, and telling the truth, so much so that you have to take lie detector tests to get through their initiation. It’s clear why Peter chooses to be in the faction of ‘Dauntless’ instead, his cruel nature, and the fact that he lies. The character of Christina, also from Candour, makes reference to this early on. Saying that, he used to start fights with people from other factions, then when people would come, he would say they started it, and because he was Candour people believed him. Sounds logical. Except the fact, I’m sure other people from Candour would find out, and know he was lying. Especially considering it later says that people from Candour are trained early on to tell when people are lying, I mean, they can tell when the main character Tris is lying. So, you would logically have to assume, that people from Candour knew he was lying about the fights. It’s also made a point of that people from Candour struggle to keep their mouth shut, they always say what they are thinking – honestly, too. She knows about the fights, so other Candour people must. Why did nobody from Candour ever say anything to the teachers or whoever stopped the fights about his lying? Especially considering they can’t keep their mouth shut. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Further more, you have to assume his parents know he’s lying – how could he keep his brutal, lying nature from them? Maybe he didn’t. But then, the plot falls apart again. Tris says numerous times that most parents don’t go to visit their kids on ‘visiting day’ if they transferred factions. Yet, on visiting day, nearly every Dauntless transfer’s parent is there? WHAT?! Even more shocking, Peter’s parents. Candour parents. People who believe being truthful is the most important thing, parents that aren’t supposed to like transfers. Considering most parents wouldn’t go an visit their children if they went completely against their faction, and were lying their arse off in candour, why do his come to visit him? It doesn’t really make sense to me. Unless they support their son. But, then they are going against their faction. Why is nobody bothered about this? I just find the whole thing a little unexplained and unbelievable.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 21.20.15

Despite this, I still enjoyed it. Although I found it hard to let go of at times through reading it. I also had many cringe worthy moments when she starts to ‘fancy’ Tobias/Four. This part of it read to me as particularly teen-fiction and childish. To the point I found myself rolling my eyes, for such a strong and brave female character, she falls at the last hurdle – of course, she’s completely infatuated by a boy that she thinks is being totally cruel to her? I mean, he doesn’t turn out to be this way in the end, but thats what she thinks at the beginning. Her opinions of him, and relationships are utterly childish, and I found struggled sometimes with these parts of the book. I would say, well what more can I expect from ‘teen fiction’, I feel that the same childish opinions crop up in ‘Twilight’, but I think they can be avoided. I didn’t feel the same way reading ‘The Hunger Games’, for example. Totally not because I’m a die-hard fan. 

So anyway, why will I be reading the second book? Because despite this, parts of the book are very well written. Fight scenes, tense moments, Tobias’s past comes out just at the right time, and she does it in a clever way, showing Tris through the simulation. It works well, as he strikes me as the kind of character that wouldn’t just say. But the main point is, I want to know what happens. Despite all the faults, some part of me must care about what is happening because I want to read the second book. The first book finishes on a cliff hanger, and with everything up in the air, I just have to know what happens. What will the Erudite do next? Did the Abnegation members get safely to Amity? What’s in store for Dauntless now. My link is less with the characters and more with the story itself. I really didn’t want to like this book, but the truth is, I did enjoy it on some level. Personally, I would rate it at three stars, whether it will get better, or worse – I do not know. But, I will be reading on.


Caitlin x

December 17th, 2014

Talking Creative Writing

Last week I did some filming to tell you all why the English and Creative Writing course at the University of Sunderland is the best. I interviewed 6 people, although we haven’t managed to get it all done, we have three interviews for you to look at for now! We hope by the end of the week to have a compilation of them all. Last but not least a special thank you to Eddie Hewitt who helped film and in particular Matthew Donnachie who not only helped film but spent all day putting up with me as he edited. You can check out his very own blog here.

So here are the videos so far:


December 10th, 2014

Spectral Visions Lunch

Spectral Visions is a gothic conference held at the university in June. All of us involved have the wonderful title of ‘visionaries’, and we all went out for lunch as it’s christmas where poor Robert was made to do multiple speeches. So I took a few quick videos on my phone, here it is:

December 9th, 2014

English and Creative Wring Blog

I’m always ranting and raving about how good my course is, so I decided I need to share it will the world. With the help of media students Matthew Donnachie and Eddie Hewitt, today we filmed some interviews to tell everyone why. 6 students were interviewed in total, and although I hate being on camera, especially more nerve racking with all the lights, it was a great experience to interview people (something I’ve never done before!). I love film, so it was nice to be able to work with likeminded people today. The university of Sunderland offers students so much, and with the use of facebook, and the universities own radio Spark, it’s very easy to get in contact with people who are willing to help you with any projects – whether you have experience or not. We’re hoping to edit all the footage next monday, so keep an eye out for the English and Creative video which will hopefully be around very shortly!

Some photos taken on the wonderful matthew’s phone:

filming2 filming filming 3



Caitlin x

December 8th, 2014

The One Page Challenge

My second love is film. Like writing, it’s a passion that I just couldn’t live without! I have some experience with making short films, and because of that, writing them. Screenwriting is great because it presents new challenges – and not just in the layout. (Anyone interested in screenwriting should get Celtx – amazing bit of software, and free). In scripts you don’t have the freedom of constant description of events, you can’t get long insights into a characters mind – this has to come through in other ways, such as the dialogue. But, even with the dialogue you have to try and keep it short, conversational, to make it seem natural if it were to be adapted – it’s very uncommon to see people on TV and film speak in large speeches unless its absolutely required (perhaps the type of character, or situation).  So you now have the challenge of trying to portray a story, but with less description, using conversational dialogue, and making sure that your character can still be understood. Most of my knowledge on screenwriting, comes from classes and a current TV Screenwriter also told me to beware of parenthesis, you should not need to constantly state how your character says things. Directors and actors will often interpret in their own way, anyway! This being said, like all writing, screenwriting is subjective. To use a well known phrase ‘each to their own’, your script is yours, and everybody has their own style. There is no comparing Quentin Tarantino’s writing style to Edgar Wright’s, and your writing style is unique to you. Tarantino uses a fair bit of description, and though its uncommon – it hasn’t seemed to cause him any problems.

So, what I actually came to post about. A while ago, I was challenged to write a one page script that could be adapted into a short film (1 page is about 1 minute film time). So, I sat down and in a surprisingly quick amount of time came up with something. So here it is. Now I challenge you to do the same, and post about it!

P.s I’d love to see other people’s work.

So here it is (click on images to see more clearly):


1pagechallenge11 1pagechallenge12


Caitlin x

December 8th, 2014

Newcastle Eagles v Durham Wildcats

On Friday night I went across to Newcastle to go and see their basketball team the Newcastle Eagles against the Durham Wildcats. It was a really good night, that I would recommend to anyone…although for a student it could be a little cheaper.