[LMB] Heinlein

Peter Hews Peterhews at protonmail.com
Sat Oct 9 12:52:22 BST 2021

On Sunday, October 3rd, 2021 at 14:21, Fred <fred.fredex at gmail.com> wrote:

Lester delRey (or maybe not) commented that whenHeinlein was great
> when under tight editorial control (e.g., the "Boys" books, and some other
> early works), but when let free tended to "sprawl" badly. I hadn't
> previously thought of that as a description, but it seems to fit.

I reference him when the topic of second draft editing comes up.  According to his letters, his normal practice at first was to write everything that came into his head and then throw out about half of it.  But he only did this because the market demanded strict word counts in those days, and he hated it.  Once he was a big enough name that editors couldn't dictate to him, he seems to have just published his first drafts, with regretable results.

I have a copy of the original draft of "Stranger in a Strange Land," and I reckon that most of what he cut from the published text deserved to go.  The example that sticks in my mind is that when he introduces the awful Alice Douglas, the UN leader's wife, he discourses for a page and a half on why she is the way she is because society won't allow a woman into a position of power.  All very wise, but a rambling disquisition from the story.

Peter Hews

Oh better far to live and die under the brave black flag I fly,
Than play a sanctimonious part with a pirate head and a pirate heart.

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