Editing untangled – Why do you need an editor? – Part 1

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One of the things we have noticed as we’ve attended writers’ conferences and writers’ group meetings is the confusion surrounding editing. From why do I need an editor, to what does an editor do, to what type of editing do I need?

Here we’ll attempt to clear the confusion by answering these and other common questions about editing.

So, let’s start with: Why do you need an editor?

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Yay! Congratulations! You’ve finished your story. You’ve pored over it and over it and over it. You’ve made it absolutely perfect. Or so you think.

But now everyone says you need to get it edited.

Why? Because a professional editor is a second set of unbiased, educated eyes.

An editor doesn’t know:

  • your story or where it takes place
  • who your characters are
  • what your characters look like, act like, feel, how they behave
  • who’s likable and not
  • what your scenes and settings look like, feel like, smell like
  • what you meant to write
  • what word you thought was right
  • what your character really meant to say
  • why you switched POV or tense.

In short, they have no preconceived ideas about your plot, where it’s going and will not read into it what you intended to write. It’s up to your story and writing to tell them all that. Finally, they’re also trained to spot and not read over grammatical, punctuation, typographical and other errors.

Simply put, editing helps you perfect your work. It can range from helping you build your story to polishing it or suggesting a complete rewrite.

How much an editor does depends on the status of your work and the type of edit you’ve requested.

Here is a link to the three basic types of editing.

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Not sure what edit formula’s right for you?

In Part II we’ll go into a lot more detail for each type of edit to help you select.

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Have you used an editor at any stage of your writing? How did they help you?

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