Editing is a vital part of writing and publishing that gets ignored by so many of them. It takes a very rough piece of work and creates one worthy of praise. No author writes so well that they don’t need an editor. Not even the most prolific authors can go without editing.
#1 The Forest for the Trees
This phrase is so perfect for editing. You see trees. That’s all you can point out to me. There’s a forest there! But you get so caught up on the one ash tree that you can’t see anything else. You’re too close to it.
As you are writing, you know what should be said. You know that John is supposed to be angry and why, but you might not have written it in a way where the reader will know. As a writer, you can see the intent, but you can’t see that the writing falls short. An editor helps the writer see where they missed the bulls’ eye.
#2 Stepping Outside the Box
We all get comfortable and tend to follow the same patterns that have worked for us in the past. We don’t see ideas outside our comfort areas. Kind of like the above reason about the forest and the trees.
An editor helps a writer step outside the self-imposed box to get a better view of their story. They give ideas and possibilities to the author. In most cases, the author might not have considered such ideas as they were not in the comfortable plan.
#3 Different Viewpoints
You, as a writer, compose a story with one viewpoint in mind. As you write, you see the story in your head. No matter what you wrote, you still see the story as it was created within your mind. The editor sees through the eyes of the reader. They can see where the story doesn’t mesh with what you think you wrote. A different set of eyes can see where the story falls apart.
I worked with an author who thought she had written this really intense scene. It was very flat and had no intensity at all. She only knew that because the editor, me, pointed it out and made suggestions to give the scene that feel she wanted.
#4 Humility Check
Authors need some humility. That can come through the editing process. Our words are not perfect when we first put them down. Even after we go over them numerous times, we might not be able to see where the issues lie. That is where the humility comes in. We have to know that our writing is not perfect and needs another set of eyes to find them. An editor does that.
Find a good editor who is honest yet kind with you about what needs improving. Listen to what they have to say and take their words to heart. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, but be willing to make changes and concede where their direction can make your writing better.
#5 Changing Rules
The rules of writing can change over the years. The acceptable style of writing should be known to the editor and to help writers adjust so they can get more sales. But mainly the rules can change when it comes to grammar. My mother was taught that sentences could not be ended with words such as “at”. That has now changed as most people speak in such a manner. Where commas should land has changed. How words are spelled has changed. Editors should know this and be keeping up on all changes.
Editors come in after the writer has poured themselves into the work and gone over their writing time and time again to get it just write before letting the editor show where things were missed or the writer wasn’t aware of certain writing rules.
#6 A Bridge Between Reader and Writer
Writers live in a world of their own. They get so involved in their story that they forget everything else including the view of the reader. Writers think they are communicating what they want clearly to the reader, but that is not always the case. Sometimes the writer forgets where the reader comes from.
The editor can point out where the reader would be confused. The writer can then add details, remove them, or simply reword them to get the message across in a clear manner. It is only through the editor that the writer can see from the reader’s perspective.
Every author needs an editor. Don’t get one who just proofreads. You want one that will help you tear the story apart and put it back together even better. They will help you become a better write.