The trouble with editors

The Trouble with Editors

If you're a young writer working on a manuscript, you may think that once you've finished the writing, the next step is finding a publisher and then seeing your words in print. Let's say your book does get accepted by a publisher. Even then, your work is far from over. 

There's still the editor to please.

The trouble with editors is that they’re so often right. You thought your job was done, but the editor has found a problem, a flaw, a weakness. At first you’ll probably resent this. You may deny there’s a problem at all. But if the editor is good at what she does, you’ve learned to trust her judgement, and you’ll eventually come around to accepting that you still have some work to do. Maybe even a lot of work. You’ll probably even admit that deep down you knew there was a problem in the story or with the writing all along but you didn’t want to face it, and so you rationalized it away or pretended it wasn’t there.

That’s the trouble with editors. A good editor is first and foremost a good reader, and the best editors are careful, passionate, thoughtful readers who notice everything. They won’t let you get away with anything less than your best.

There are certainly times when I resist an editor’s suggestion or I try to find a compromise, and the usual result is that by going back to the manuscript and working it over, I discover something else entirely -- a new and better direction for the story that isn’t what either I or the editor had in mind.

As a writer I’ve worked with many different editors. Most have been superb readers and consummate professionals. I’ve had editors who were honest and meticulous about every last little detail, and some who were almost completely hands-off. Both experiences were valuable in their own way.

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1 comment:

Kimmy said...

The more I publish, the more I appreciate my editors, and the more I enjoy the editing process. I find it nearly as creative and fun (and heartbreaking and exhausting) as writing the thing in the first place.