Monday, February 15, 2016

Don't Shoot the Editor

By Andrea Merrell

 As the saying goes, "Don't shoot the messenger." Well, I say, "Let's not shoot the editor." 

Editors have been called everything from Grammar Nazis to Professional Nit-pickers. Most people have a love/hate relationship with the editors they have worked with. The first time we get our manuscript back and see where the editor has literally bled all over the pages with red ink, our heart almost stops, and our brain goes into panic mode. The same could be said for all the track changes and comments on a digital copy. Our first thought might be, Oh, my goodness, I thought I was a writer … guess it’s back to flipping burgers.

After the initial shock wears off and we readjust our attitude (putting on our teachable hat), we begin to learn from the process. What we have to realize is that the editor is not our enemy. On the contrary, his or her role is to help teach us the basics, introduce us to industry standards, and make us look as good as possible. Input from a seasoned editor with an eye for detail and a heart for good writing can make or break our stories.

We all need help. Trust me, no one is perfect. Even the best editor needs an editor, and a good editor can be a writer's best friend. It's time to heed the advice when your editor tells you to:

  • Tighten your writing by eliminating redundant words and phrases. 
  • Cut out the exclamation points, quotation marks, and italics, and only use when necessary. 
  • Work on showing, not telling.
  • Keep your tenses consistent.
  • Stop using too many -ly and -ing words. 
  • Pay careful attention to POV (point of view) and stop head-hopping).
  • Learn how to create a good hook.
  • Use proper formatting. 

Here are a few funny quotes I think you will enjoy:
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” 
― Dr. Seuss

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” 
Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“There Are Two Typos Of People In This World: Those Who Can Edit And Those Who Can’t.” 
Jarod Kintz

“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.” 
Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” 
Shannon Hale

“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.” 
Patricia Fuller

“Edit your manuscript until your fingers bleed and you have memorized every last word. Then, when you are certain you are on the verge of insanity ... edit one more time!” 
C.K. Webb

“Editing is the very edge of your knowledge forced to grow--a test you can't cheat on.” 
S. Kelley Harrell

“You should edit before and after editing.” 
Dwayne Fry

“There is no great writing, only great rewriting.” 
Justice Louis Brandeis

“Writing is like shadow boxing. Editing is when the shadows fight back.” 
Adam Copeland

“Remove the comma, replace the comma, remove the comma, replace the comma ...” 
R.D. Ronald

“When reading, I pretend I’m an editor, though when writing I realize I’m not.” 
Fierce Dolan

“Apparently, my hopes, dreams and aspirations were no match against my poor spelling, punctuation, and grammar.” 
Red Red Rover

“Editing is like pruning the rose bush you thought was so perfect and beautiful until it overgrew the garden.” 
Larry Enright

“Edit your author as you would be edited.” 
Barbara SjoholmAn Editor's Guide to Working with Authors

As my grandparents always said, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. It might not be easy, but our job is to strive for excellence in all we do, especially as Christian writers. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:17 NIV).

So ... what are your thoughts on the editing process? We would love to hear from you. 

(All quotes courtesy of Goodreads.)

(Photos courtesy of Miles/TAW4/pandpstock001.)


A good editor can be a writer’s best friend. via @AndreaMerrell (Click to tweet)

Even the best editor needs an editor. via @AndreaMerrell (Click to Tweet.)

And the winner of Lori Roeleveld's book is ...
Cyn Rogalski. Cyn, contact me at andrea merrell 7 @ gmail dot com with your address, and your book will be on its way. Congrats! You will love it. :)

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