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Welcome to my story blog. I will post one new story here every day. You are welcome to comment on any or all of them. Enjoy!
                   --Lee Pound

How to Work With an Editor

The editor is your friend.

Memorize that line. Repeat it five times a day. Memorize it again.

It amazes me that so many writers are actually afraid to show their work to another professional who may actually know more about writing than they do because they are afraid their writing will be found lacking in some key ingredient. So they struggle on by themselves, thinking they are writing pearls of wisdom when in fact they are writing very average work.

In fact a lot of professional editors come up with average work from time to time too and need to hire an editor.

So what’s an editor for? To take your work from average to wonderful. I remember a recent story in one of my book review magazines about a very famous author, who shall remain nameless, whose editor at a famous magazine, who shall also remain nameless, rewrote and cut most of his work, giving it the flair and punch for which it is noted. This very famous writer turned in work that was wordy, slow, ponderous, filled with adverbs and passives and this very unfamous editor made it sparkle.

Most work by new and average writers contains a lot of dross, words that don’t have to be there, adverbs that weigh it down, sentences that take forever to get to the point, and cliches that make scratching nails feel pleasant. I should know. I’ve read enough of it and edited enough of it. A good editor gets rid of this muck for you. A great editor teaches you how to recognize and get rid of the muck yourself before he or she ever sees it.

Editors like writers who are serious about learning to be very good. They dislike writers who will not recognize that they have a writing problem. Agents reject over 99% of the submissions they receive because of poor writing of one sort or another. Once they’re past the problematic work, that 1% is all that is left. If you’ve been told by an agent to get your book edited, do it. I don’t care if it is fiction or non-fiction, get it edited.

Fiction writers are worse at this than non-fiction writers. At least most non-fiction writers realize that they need help with their writing. I’ve found that fiction writers tend to be worse than they think they are, mostly because they’ve learned a haphazard amount of craft from a series of writers conferences or from other writers who don’t know what they are doing either. It’s a bad combination and it’s why so many novels go unpublished every year.

So whatever you are writing, the editor is your friend. He or she will teach you, encourage you, and fix your stuff, as long as you appreciate the knowledge you are gaining. Being an editor mostly means slogging through bad prose and attempting to make it shine. It’s a tough job. The more you as the writer learn from top level professionals, the more an editor will be delighted to work with you.

We grow by listening to others tell us where we went wrong. An editor will tell you a lot about where you went wrong. It’s best not to argue unless you have a very good reason because your editor knows more about what your words are doing to your audience than you do.

Whatever you are writing, hire a good editor to give you feedback and you will be well on your way to writing success.


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