Editors! Writers sometimes fear them. We often have a belief – mistaken though it may be – that they are out to change our manuscripts or make our voices homogeneous.
Today’s post will explain why we need editors and it is written by our very own friend and fellow blogger Linda Paul. You are likely familiar with her as she has a wonderful blog – Rangewriter.
Many thanks to Linda for agreeing to guest post today and for taking the time to explain from the point of view of an editor.
Who needs an editor, anyway?
Most people who are confident enough to call themselves writers know they need an editor. This seems counter intuitive to less experienced writers. After all, a good writer knows how to organize, punctuate, and document. And spellcheckers are a writer’s best friend, right?
Yes, writers do know how to organize, punctuate, and document their work. However, an editor comes to a piece of writing with a fresh set of eyes and a blank expectation of what those eyes will see. Writers transfer the ideas in their heads to the words on the page. The problem is that as writers we are so intimately involved with what is inside our heads that we tend to miss the details of what lands on the printed page. We see what we are thinking. Human brains are wired to fill in the blanks, to make assumptions that allow us to connect the dots. This inside-out knowledge works against us in our writing.
- We miss crucial transitions; much like the engineer forgets to tell us that we need to hit the silver button in order to move to the next step.
- We miss incorrect, duplicated, or missing words, for example; the for then, to for too, such for much. Our brains correct these errors before our eyes can register them. Spellcheckers are helpful, but they are robots, devoid of the nuance and judgment of an editor.
- We miss redundancies in our own words: if they slip into the finished pages, repeated phrases, repeated sentence structures, even repeated ideas will bore our readers to tears.
A competent editor finds these elusive gaps and goofs. The editor does not rewrite an author’s work, does not interfere with an author’s unique voice or style. The editor is simply another tool in the writer’s quiver; a tool that helps the author move information seamlessly from inside the brain to the page.
There is good reason for the praise that great authors shower on their editors in their acknowledgement section.
Who needs an editor?
We all need an editor.
Thanks again Linda! I think you have summed this issue up really well.
Have you realized you should have gotten an editor before moving ahead with a project, or experienced a situation in which you didn’t know how something sounded to a reader until it was pointed out?
**Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray. She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food. She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel. **