I’ve never had someone change my stories in a way that I disagree with.

My work has been edited – of course it has. Editors have suggested many many changes to my work. They’ve clarified sentences that were hard to understand, they’ve cut boring passages and moved other passages around to make them more interesting.

No one has ever forced me to write something I don’t believe in.

So I’ve been wondering what I would think if an editor asked me to change the description of a character from fat to enormous. They might feel that the story was implying that to be fat was to be greedy. As I don’t believe that to be the case I’d probably want to change the word to avoid misunderstanding.

I mention this because of the recent news about Roald Dahl’s books being rewritten.

When I first read the above article I was against the idea of rewriting books, but the more I think about it the more I wonder if I’m really upset about the feeling that it’s my childhood that’s being rewritten. When I take the time to consider, many of the changes listed in the article seem quite reasonable. Language and attitudes change over time.

Rewrite is an emotive word. Is it a rewrite if the sense of the text isn’t changing, or is it just a judicious edit?

By way of illustration, I’ll quote my daughter. I bought her a collection of Jeeves and Wooster stories for Christmas. This is what she said:

“Dad this book you’ve bought me has so many iterations of the N word, and the climax involves him getting into black face.”

Should that text be edited to change the N word, should the climax be rewritten? Or should it be left as it is? I have my own opinion on this, but that’s for another post.


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