Editorial Shenanigans

I keep notes on my editors’ stylistic preferences, mostly to oil the wheels…but in the case of one editor, I’ve amassed quite the list of grievances. Spot the dick!


  • Disliked words and phrases: squish, moist, lemon-suck face, grody, belch;
  • Adds lots of em-dashes;
  • Prefers longer sentences, particularly in dialogue;
  • Great at spotting Britishisms I don’t recognise as such.


  • Disliked words and phrases: any fake sound-effect words (runch, beeble, skreek);
  • Adds adverbs to dialogue tags; prefers tags other than “said”;
  • Hates colons in any context;
  • Puts suggestions at the end of each chapter, not in the margin notes.


  • Disliked words and phrases: slit, startled, flipping the bird, brows (always use “eyebrows”), wintry (doesn’t consider it a word), panties, underpants, knickers, Y-fronts, briefs;
  • NEVER use any variant of “there is/was,” “it is/was,” etc. Will C&P lengthy margin note on passive description…even for one instance in a 90,000-word manuscript;
  • Expects replies to all margin notes;
  • Creeped out by doo-wop; will ruin favourite songs with notes on why they’re creepy;
  • Adds commas before references to time (“He thought it’d be fine, this time.”);
  • Notes can be vague; offended by requests for clarification;
  • Unwilling to discuss manuscripts in progress; prefers to correct errors than prevent them;
  • Narrow idea of what’s plausible. When pitching concepts, avoid references to anyone doing anything that might be considered extraordinary;
  • Leaps on ANY pretext to quote “The Bestseller Code.” FUCK OFF!
  • Knows a lot about child psychology.


  • Disliked words and phrases: inasmuch;
  • Dislikes “fetishistic” descriptions of food and eating;
  • Loves anything music-related;
  • Prefers short sentences and strong verbs.


  • Disliked words and phrases: courtyard, eavestroughs, America (call it the USA);
  • Good at spotting sneaky racist shit*;
  • Prefers American English, even in pitches/outlines;
  • Likes ambitious plot ideas;
  • Fun to talk to.

* Which I didn’t know was racist. Obviously I wouldn’t, on purpose, you know…

PS – These aren’t my complete lists. I removed or modified anything that might identify these people to their employers or co-workers (though, besides Mr. Boose, I’d recommend all of them).

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