My Editor, My Ally

I have an ally.

When writing, it’s vital to have allies. People who will fight for your story at your side. They might cheer you on. They might be your beta readers, offering truly constructive criticism because they want to see you succeed. They might be family members that clear out to give you the time to write. If you have any of those on your writing journey, be thankful.

But one of the best allies you can have is an editor. Someone who will take the words you’ve crafted and makes them better.

There a number of different kinds of editors.

The developmental editor will take your ideas and massage them into better shape. Do the characters work? Do the plot points function?

The line editor will find all your typos. And yes, you have them. Trust me. This kind of editor will also check the flow of the prose. That’s incredibly important; they’ll notice if a character that usually speaks in a funny way is suddenly speaking proper English.

Structural editors will help your story’s structure. Does this scene work here, or better over there? Does the climax work, or do you need more buildup?

There’s also fact-checking. That’s incredibly important, especially if you happen to be writing nonfiction, but even for a fiction writer like me it’s helpful. In my current novel, a key plot point involves items found in coal deposits. Well, what would you expect to find in a coal deposit? A touch important there.

These editors want your work to be the best if can be. They may only want that because it means a better payday for them. After all, if they do good work, they’re more likely to get rehired. Other editors may truly believe in you and your story.

If you’ve got an editor that can do all the above, that will cheer you on because they care for you, who will talk through developmental edits and do line edits, that person is gold and you had better never let them go.

That also means you need to trust them. You won’t always agree with everything your editor says. It’s all right to disagree, but trust that this editor really does want you to succeed. They’re not offering their suggestions to tear you down or because “they’re so smart.” They’re doing it because they have expertise and a pair of eyes that are not your own.

Editors are your allies. Treat them as such.

I have such an ally.

She’s my wife.

Last week I complained a bit about balancing writing and family life. It is a struggle!

That said, I don’t think my writing would be nearly as good if I didn’t have her eyes on my words. She’s not afraid to call me out. “That makes no sense!” At the same time, she gets excited for what I write. I know that she’s in my corner, cheering me on, and helping me get better.

So let me encourage you: If you have an ally in your writing, thank them. And if you’ve got a good editor, thank them. And if those two happen to be the same person, well, maybe they deserve some fresh-baked cookies.

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