Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kudos to Editors

Recently, while working on the first edits of two books with two different editors from different publishing houses, I experienced one of those ‘aha’ moments. I realized that really good editors make me a better writer—if I’m smart enough to use the suggestions they make. This may be a 'duh' moment to some of you. I've always valued the editing process, but now I keep a file of editor suggestions that can be used for future writing.

While it’s important to make sure all the grammar and punctuation are correct, a good editor is going to nudge you to write deeper and tighter. A good editor is going to find the inconsistencies in your work and will keep you in point of view. They won’t stifle your voice but, rather, will make sure your voice is consistent.

We writers are so invested in the story, so involved with our characters, that we can sometimes gloss over details that need to be told to the reader. For example, in one of the recent edits, I have a secondary character in the story who is alcoholic. He turns his life around and embraces sobriety. And this is thrust upon his family and the readers all of a sudden over Thanksgiving dinner. My editor had the sensibility to suggest that I not make this look more simple than it is, that my character needs to struggle with sobriety—which is more real than not. I knew that. But I didn’t write it. With the help of the editor, I saw what could be a weakness in my writing if I leave it unattended—the tendency to gloss over the details. Life changes don’t happen in neat, quick instances. They take time. And readers aren’t inside my head where I already know that.

Going back through the story and reading it through the editor’s eyes now gave me the opportunity to sharpen the writing and go into more depth. I’ve worked with several editors in four different publishing houses. I won’t say I’ve always agreed with every suggestion the editor made. And I’ve argued a few points and even won a few. But I’m smart enough to know I have one perspective on my manuscript and having another pair of eyes scrutinize my work is extremely helpful. When you write, then rewrite, then rewrite your manuscript before submitting it, you know it so well, you tend to read ahead of yourself. That’s when you miss the mistakes.

So, here’s to the editors who make our books shine. Go ahead, take a bow. You know who you are.

Linda Rettstatt
2012 EPIC eBook Award Winner - Love, Sam - Mainstream Fiction


Liz Fountain said...

So true. I learned to love editing when a lovely editor who helped me get my manuscript ready for submission pointed out one of my main characters seemed secondary, because she hadn't learned much about why he behaved as he did. Well, all that backstory was in my head, but lo and behold, not in the manuscript. Good editors are worth their weight in gold.

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Very true. I'm in the middle of edits with Judy for my sequel in December and wow does that need work. We miss a lot "getting ahead of ourselves."

Unknown said...

I Love my editor! Seriously, she's terrific and you're right, she makes my manuscripts shine.

Infogypsy said...

Absolutely- having written through three different publishing houses, I have had seven different editors, not due to me but either they quit, were fired or changed genres in the middle of my edits. The last publisher is the best by far - the editor I had for my lat book (Night Noise) was great! She and I battled it out and I realized I could disagree and keep some things I wanted but it was necessary to listen to her also - which I often did.

Ciara Gold said...

I agree. I've been fortunate to have 3 different editors since writing for Champagne and they've all given me valuable insight into my writing. Great post and yes, thanks to all my editors for a job well done.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. Lord do I miss my editor Cindy. What a talent and sweat heart she is/was, I do miss her so.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2011)

Nikki said...

Ah, it's so nice to be appreciated. Thank you, Linda and others! Believe me, we appreciate writers who are willing to work with us to make their books the best they can be.