Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why You Should Find the Perfect Editor

As you might know, editing something isn’t a one time affair. You write your MS without editing (hopefully). Then you read it once, again without editing or correcting anything (and Lord isn't that difficult to do). You read it again, this time doing a red pen markup. When your done, you let it rest a few more days and you read it again, adding more red marks. Now you fix it. Think you're done? Not yet.

Next you find an editor. Choose well, my friend. Your editor can make or break you.

Now send this first draft off to the editor and have them work their magic on it. What you get back are more changes and suggestions from your editor in what is now called a Second Draft, meaning the story still isn't done yet. You make the corrections and apply the suggestions that you agree with, and send this baby the editor. 

If you've found a good editor, one whose worth their weight in gold, the most important and valuable thing they will offer you is constructive criticism regarding plot points, character development, and anything that may make the story more appealing to your readers. 

But keep in mind, an editor won't be able to offer anything constructive if they have to spend a great deal of time fixing spelling errors, typos, and passive voice errors instead of concentrating on plot and story. It's very important that you take the time to do the preliminary work yourself. Don't lean on your editor to do every single little aspect of getting your book in shape. You must take responsibility for the basics. Run your work through spell-check, check for noticeable grammatical errors, review for know, the basics.

Finding the right editor can be hell. An editor that works well with your friend might annoy you to no end, because different people edit differently. You might be the type of writer who is terribly insecure about their writing. In that case you need an editor who will be nice and patient and diplomatic when pointing out ridiculous plot mistakes. Other writers might need a Grammar or Spelling Nazi for an editor…

The bottom line is, you might think you know what kind of an editor you need. But it might turn out that the person you’ve chosen to provide criticism doesn’t really help you improve your writing, and improving your writing is the whole point of editing.

Maybe you learned along the way that you shouldn’t use just one character for your exposition and that you should stick to one POV and how not to write a Mary-Sue. Feeling confident in your knowledge and skill, you go and write your story. Only, like every writer does, or should, you have an extremely personal relationship with your stories. And that is precisely why you are incapable of seeing any wrong in it. That’s why you need just the right editor to tell you in just the right words that your main protagonist is a Mary-Sue, that your POV is shaky, and you should decide who exactly is telling the story. 

It's possible you could end up rewriting the entire story, and it may only just resemble your first draft. You might even start hating your editor because of the cruel, cold way they are destroying your precious baby. But once you relax, sleep on it, have your caffeine boost, you might just realize that your editor is on your side. And...she was right after all.

So, now you might understand that you  need to go and give your Mary-Sue glasses and a phobia and you’ll get rid of that prophecy, you will rewrite the entire story to tell it from the POV of the Evil Warlock and you’ll call the main love interest Jed Forrester.

If you decide to stick with your editor after that first story is edited and done, your second story might suffer similar treatment. But you’ll notice, maybe after the third or fourth, that your editor is pointing out different things than in the beginning. And after the fifth and sixth story, you’ll see that corrections are made less and less often. You've improved and your readers will notice it too.

Bottom line: find a good editor, trust your editor, love and cherish her, for she is your beacon in the fog. 

As always, I wish you all the best,

Dee Ann 

Great links to help you find the right editor for your masterpiece: