Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guest Post: HAVE YOU KISSED YOUR EDITOR TODAY? by Brenda Whiteside




I love my editor. True love. I’ve never met my current editor face to face, but I’ll hug her like an old friend if I ever get the chance. Editors complete me.

A few years ago, I worked as an editor for an e-publisher for a year. 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.

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.”


Brenda Whiteside spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Together, they’ve embraced an age-old lifestyle that has been mostly lost in the United States - multiple generations living under one roof, who share the workload, follow their individual dreams and reap the benefits of combined talents.

Although she didn’t start out to write romance, she’s found all good stories involve complicated human relationships. She’s also found no matter a person’s age, a new discovery is right around every corner. Whether humorous or serious, straight contemporary or mystery, all her books revolve around those two facts.

Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com.
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
She blogs about writing and prairie life at http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/

16 comments:

Brenda Whiteside said...

It's great to be a guest. I'm away from home today at an RV park with unreliable Internet. I'll check in as often as possible. Thanks!

Connie Flynn said...

Spot on blog, Brenda. And kissing editors is always a good thing. Seriously, I agree completely. Half of what I learned about writing came from my editors.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks, Connie. So right. Editors are good teachers.

vicki batman said...

I loved this! I wish I had a great internal editor, too.

Brenda Whiteside said...

No kidding, Vicki. Wouldn't that be perfect. Thanks for commenting.

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Brenda, that hearing yourself coming back struck a chord with me. I do a lot of weeding before I let the book out for a first critique, much less see the editor. I still a lot of feedback, most very valuable.

Damn, I said very. Mark Twain would be damned mad.

Ashantay said...

Yes, I love my editor - she always tells me when I've missed a plot hole and doesn't understand what I'm attempting to convey. I don't enjoy team sports, but wouldn't think about publishing without my team of CPs, editor and cover artist! That's why TWRP rocks!

Brenda Whiteside said...

LOL, Julie. And yes, Ashantay - the team concept is so needed.

Debra Jupe said...

I'm with you, Brenda. I've learned a lot about writing from many sources, but my editor taught me the most. I'm so thankful for her. I've also been lucky enough to meet her in person, and she's just as cool as in cyberspace.

Jody Vitek said...

I couldn't be published without my editor! Not to mention my CP's. Great post and enjoy your time away.

Nikki said...

As editor and writer, I say YES YES YES! (And as an editor, I'd kill the caps and !) Every ms is a learning experience, no matter which hat I'm wearing. Wonderful post. Kisses welcome, hugs ready for distribution.

Annabel Aidan said...

Great post. I love working with my editors, and I'm so grateful for their guidance. I'm also often mortified when they catch me doing something I can catch in my editing clients, but didn't see in my own work!

Editing others has certainly improved my own writing.

It also makes me far less patient with beginning writers who believe that, simply because it came from their pen, it is perfect without change.

I have also learned a great deal from my editors. I try to apply the lessons to the next book. I don't always succeed, but I try!

KMTolan said...

Spot-on article. My "Tracks" editor was fully engaged in the story and prodded me into vastly improving several aspects of the tale. I am a firm believer that, when your book begins the editing process, it's now a team effort.

Kerry

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thank you all for your positive comments. Sorry I didn't respond sooner. I've had so much trouble with this Internet connection!

Big Mike said...

I agree. I've had four editors and three were amazing at teaching me knew things in terms of writing quality, flow and reader enjoyment.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks for commenting, Mike. It seems editors are pretty much a loved group!