Thursday, February 9, 2012

Editors - Gotta Love 'Em by Brenda Whiteside

Last year, I worked as an editor for an e-publisher. What I learned could probably fill a book, if I was inclined to write nonfiction. Not only did I become a better editor as the year wore on, my skills as a writer also improved. Now I can expect success – or at least I think I have a better chance of it.
My authors ranged from the experienced to first time published. The blunders of both groups ran the spectrum from point of view problems to back-story dumps.

How much easier it was to see the foibles of other authors than to see my own. But what I came to recognize were my own weaknesses. When you're removed from a manuscript, you see the pitfalls so much easier. We love our manuscripts like a baby and, like all mothers/fathers, we can't necessarily see the imperfections. The phrase we worked so hard over and is so clever has no history for the editor. Pretty easy to slash and burn. When I realized this, I was able to more easily step back and use the same technique on my own manuscripts.

We're told to write without fear of our inner editor; to ignore her and lay our story down with abandon. I have a multi-published friend who requires little, if any, editing once she's completed her manuscript. I'm convinced her inner editor works side-by-side with her. She's at the point in her career, after having written so many books, she and her inner editor are one and doesn't disrupt the creative process. Editing other authors has given me some of that ability. Kind of the practice-makes-perfect syndrome.

But, and this is a big but, I will always need an editor. In my opinion, an author will always be too close to her work to see all overused words, illogical plot lines, flat characters, questionable POV issues and unneeded verbiage to name a few. I also have a newfound respect for editors. It's hard work. And every suggestion from my editor gets a thoughtful consideration from me now.What I found most amazing about the experience was hearing my voice in other authors. How many times had I disagreed when told to cut paragraphs of back-story? It hurts. We create this wonderful history, and shouldn't everyone want to read about our well-rounded characters? You really have to know this! Or "but Nora Roberts" switched POV in the middle of a scene – why can't I? Some edits are hard to make.

What I found most amusing about the experience was a comment my husband made to me one day as I toiled over one of my own manuscripts. My editor had sent back the first round of edits. I cringed at the amount of red. "My gosh, this is going to take me longer to edit than it took me to write it," I complained out loud. My husband didn't look up from his paper, but snickered, "Now you know how your authors feel."

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Colleen Connally said...

I cringed on my last set of edits, but I can tell you I missed my editor when I release an Indie. It's hard to edit your own work.

Barbara Edwards said...

My editor is tough, too, but I love the finished product so I can't complain--not too much.

Jannine Gallant said...

A good editor makes your work shine! I've adored most of mine and learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses from them. Now we know who to go to with our indie releases. LOL

Laura Breck said...

Good advice, Brenda. Every author needs an editor - or at the very least, a beta reader.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

A good editor helps a story shine. I've grown from my experiences. A LOT!!!

glenys said...

Very good points, Brenda - a good editor is worth twice her weight in gold! A bad editor, or one who simply doesn't 'get' your story, is a real detriment, though. This only happened to me once, and I regret going along with her suggestions because I look at that book now and see that the 'voice' was totally lost. I learned from that that editing can be subjective - we should take the editor's comments very seriously but not be afraid to argue the point- choosing our battles wisely, of course!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks for all your comments. I was off line right after I posted this and just now got the Internet hooked up out here in Paulden.