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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Editor (05/27/10)

TITLE: It's That Simple
By dub W


That feeling comes, perhaps of having a favorite toy destroyed by the class bully. Everyone remembers those feelings. Our writing becomes so dear to us that we cuddle it like a doll or teddy bear. The editor walks into our lives like that perennial playground bully, and grabs our precious paper, and destroys it like smashing a doll’s head on a cement block.

We swear and cry and say things we don’t mean. It’s all a part of the process of professional writing. The beast who devours our work, is our editor.

Whenever I meet another writer I almost always ask, “Who is your editor?” My question is often met with one or more stories about a love/hate relationship, often stories of fiery divorces in business associations. On the other hand, I have never met a professional writer who does not have an editor.

Most professional writers pay, or have paid for them, one or more highly skilled persons who practice the art of editing. No writer can successfully see his or her own errors. Oh, perhaps in a 100-word essay, an edit of syntax and meaning may not occur, but in almost everything longer, an editor is needed. Indeed, most executives know that another pair of eyes is needed before even the simplest correspondence leaves an office.

Not all editors make good writers. It may seem like someone who has mastered grammar and syntax skills should be able to put a manuscript together. But, that is not their skill set. Editors are blessed with a unique skill – the gift of sight. Not necessarily the gift of “story telling.” The editor is the ultimate reader. The professional editor sees context, grammatical construction, plot development, and underlying moods.

Sometimes, I allow my spouse to edit my work. This is dangerous, because I become a little prideful when she points out my failures. An outside, third person, reader has no stake in what they might think about my work or even how I feel about it. While the truth may hurt, it won’t cause family disruption.

Relatives generally are terrible editors. If they truly read the work they often will not say anything about errors so as not to "step on toes." However, I had an elderly aunt who had been an English teacher – she was the exception to the rule. Actually, she gave me the respect for editors. At my young age she liberally red marked my creative efforts.

Self-published writers are beginning to see the light. Not long ago I could go to book fairs and other venues and find self-published writers selling their works. A quick glance through the pages told me that the books were self published and unedited. Even my unskillful eyes could recognize the poor sentence structure, mishandled grammar, and incongruent plot development.

At a recent book fair I glanced at some of the writer’s works and was surprised at the improved quality of their manuscripts. When I asked about editing, I was always told that the writer had found a professional editor.

For some reason the Lord gave me the ability to see a subject and immediately write about it. I suppose that made me a good white paper writer for a corporation. I also wrote a twice weekly column for a newspaper. However, all of my professional work was edited. And, today, my private work still is.

As I have said many times before, writers do not own what they write. The reader owns it. The editor makes it so the reader does not casually toss the writing aside like a broken toy. It’s really that simple.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 519 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Brenda Shipman 06/06/10
This could easily be an article in a writing magazine - informative, straightforward and well-done!
Phee Paradise 06/09/10
You convinced me. I need an editor.
Lyn Churchyard06/11/10
Ahh editors. If you're a writer, you can't kill 'em, and ya can't live without 'em.
Your observations about some self-published books are spot on the money.
I've just hired an editor. It's kind of like going to visit a surgeon. You know he's going to start cutting, you just have to trust him to know when to stop. You really should send this to a writers' magazine Dub.