What a good editor does

A good editor sees through your hack jobs.

One of the stories in my book features seven characters — a lot of voices to keep track of. When my husband read that chapter, he was confused. This is an early chapter in the book so I knew confusing the reader that early would be deadly. But rather than rewrite the chapter, as I should have, I just deleted two of the characters and changed a few plural verbs to singular.

But a good editor sees through short cuts like that.

My editor kindly suggested that chapter was one of my weaker chapters. “You kind of lose the reader,” he said. “You need to get to the point quicker.”

Other readers had mentioned other problems with the chapter, but my editor explained it in a way that convicted me. As he spoke, I knew he had a point because I knew how that chapter got there. And I realized why the other readers struggled with it.

My clumsy fix had been revealed for what it was: Lazy.

This is why even the best writers need good editors. Good editors look at writing the way readers do, but they are able to articulate clearly what’s wrong. And very good editors gently point this out in ways that even the most territorial writers concede the point.

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