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I am a writer - late developer since I wasn't published until I was 50. I have now written 23 novels, numerous short stories and articles.


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Sunday 6 June 2010
We all have preferences and editors are no exception, though there are times when what they prefer is not necessarily what you want. I have to say that I have never met a fat editor, publicity manager - here is much glamour in the world of publishing. Hence when I once wrote a heroine who was a size 14. “Does she have to be so gross?” my size 0 editor asked. We also have to remember that they live and work in London for the most part; they move in a rarefied world with attitudes and believes far removed from those of middle England. Hence they will often query a position or attitude you have given a character. One of my heroines was somewhat put out and said as much, in no uncertain tones, upon finding her husband in flagrante with a male servant. “You will offend so many people with such homophobia,” the same editor said. I pointed out that my story was set in the 30s when homosexuality was a criminal offense. There was more though, I said that many women in middle England today would be similarly upset. Homophobia had nothing to do with it. Political correctness intrudes all the time. colour, class, sexual orientation are all pitfalls waiting to happen. Be warned! Words. I was once faced with the difficulty of having a publisher who loathed, abhorred abd banned the word that. I don’t know why she hated that poor little word but she did. Cutting back on that is difficult, I know! Mind you I did have sympathy with her we all have words we dislike. Mine is muse. It gives me the abdabs – but I had one copy editor who liberally sprinkled muse, muses and mussed all over my copy. Adverbs. There you have another one that can cause problems. Of course there are unnecessary ones. “I hate you, I wish you were dead!” she shouted angrily. But what is wrong with she sang happily (which I had queried once) because songs and singing vary, so she could be happy or mournful. “Justified!” I declared. You’ll find editors who don’t mind and editors who do, it’s the luck of the draw. And what about poor little adjectives, they get a lot of blue pencilitis too. I like adjectives. Sometimes I wonder what they want us to write. If we were all minimalist in our writing how boring that would be.


  1. I don't think I really believe in size zero. How can someone be that small? But for the rest, I'm with you all the way!

  2. it's all so subjective....

  3. The thing is, does that editor only publish books for one type or reader? I'm sure many readers would love to have a size 14 character, they'd feel identified.
    And as for adverbs, we feel so insecure we go from one extreme to the other. Complain about one adverb and I'll take them all out!!

  4. I love the idea of characters who buck the trend. How dull if every 'hero' and 'heroine' conformed to restrictive stereotypes.

    Long live variety, I say - and that extends to the structure of sentences and choice of language.

    Liz X