I’m coming to the end of my time at the Winchester Writers’ Conference, of which more anon. But can I run something quickly by my fellow bloggers, whether they be readers or writers.

At the conference you have the opportunity to pitch your offerings to a variety of agents, editors, publishers etc. I have about 22,000 words so far on a somewhat grim story of a young Nepalese woman captured and forced into the sex trade in Kolkata. I have taken on the challenge of writing in the first person, i.e.as the young woman. I am using the excellent Sue Ghosh as my editor in this to hopefully save me from blundering too badly as I proceed.

Now, the first lady I met, a consultant editor, was in no doubt. This didn’t work. She could absolutely tell that it was a man writing. There was therefore no credibility.

woman writing

By Henry Clive

The next two were not so firm, but maybe they were just less interested. But the fourth, a (younger) commissioning editor said she disagreed. She thought that it was fine. There were other aspects that she thought needed considerable improvement, but not that. She, like I, felt that the way I had approached it brought more immediacy and poignancy to the story.

So a simple question. Can you guys generally tell if a piece of writing is by a man or a woman? And yes I know that you would probably prefer to see a sample, but generally speaking.

Did you know that Memoirs of a Geisha was written by a man?