I see a lot of authors and writers ask the question, “do I need an editor?” I have worked both as a writer and editor. I believe writers of every type benefit from editing (in addition to writing tips).
I know how it can be frustrating to get your work back filled with markups and requested changes. Or worse, an editor tells you to change your writing with no direction (this isn’t really editing so much as criticizing). Sometimes, editors hate your writing style and will never love anything you put on a page.
As an editor, I’ve realized that beyond basic grammatical corrections, editing is often subjective. I tend to eliminate pontificating and filler phrases when I edit. Other editors prefer descriptive, flowing sentences. This is why it is important to find an editor who does love your writing style and your subject material.
7 Reasons Why Editors are Essential to the Writing Process
But, no matter what type of writing you do, the answer to the question “do I need an editor for my book (or paper or thesis)” is always “yes” and here is why:
When you’re writing, you get in the zone. You envision what you are writing about and your words flow onto a page in what you hope is a beautiful symphony of words. However, when an editor looks at your writing, she has no idea what was going on in y head when you wrote it. What you thought was a beautiful and poignant description of how rust is like life and everything eventually breaks down but still remains beautiful, the editor sees as a long rambling sentence about oxidized metal that is completely irrelevant.
An editor takes what you wrote and clarifies the meaning. Maybe it doesn’t take 200 words to make your point. Maybe it only takes 20.
In my editing experience, I’ve seen a lot of writers go off onto tangents that are irrelevant or miss the guidelines entirely. An editor can help a writer focus on what needs to be said and eliminate the rest.
When I’m writing, sometimes I realize that what I’m trying to say isn’t coming across quite how I would like, but I can’t think of another way to write it. An editor looks at a piece/book/whatever with fresh eyes and can help you find that new way to present the difficult section. From titles to plots, editors can really help make any piece of writing much better.
Editors Catch Mistakes
Everyone makes basic mistakes with writing. From writing loose instead of lose to more egregious errors like misspelling the name of a president, mistakes happen. Editors catch these small mistakes and make you look smarter.
Editors Know When to Let Go
Apparently, not all editors know this (specifically George RR Martin’s editors), but in most cases, an editor pares down information to the most essential parts. Today’s trend for books is “the longer the better” but the more I read the less I believe in this trend.
Now, I am far more likely to believe that 300 pages is plenty long enough for any story.
Editors Find Holes
Like George RR Martin, I have a story I’ve been working on for over 10 years (11 to be exact). Every so often, I write a lot of it at once and have my husband read it. He catches silly plot holes that I don’t even think of. My husband would be a great editor (and writer). An editor asks you, “why is this here?” “How does this drive the story (even non-fiction has a story)?” And the less popular, “this is bizarre. Get rid of it.”
Editors Reveal Your Best Writing
In short, the answer to the question, “do I need to hire an editor,” is a definitive “yes.” Editors help you become the writer you are, but more crystallized. Imagine yourself in the raw as partially congealed Jello. You kind of have shape, but it’s fluid and not very clear. An editor transforms the soupy Jello into a clearly defined ice sculpture.
Do you use an editor? Share your editor raves or horror stories with us!
Find more practical writing tips here!
Do you need an editor for your book or other writing? You’re in luck! I also offer reasonably-priced editing services.