Editor and Writer–A Challenging Alliance

Writers primarily write because they have something to say. There are those who suggest writers have an agenda, while others suggest writers simply need to express themselves, and they chose words as their vehicle.

Editors primarily edit because they want to make sure that what the writer says is clear to the reader. There are those who suggest editors are frustrated writers, while others suggest editors lack creativity and originality.

Being both a published writer in periodicals and books, as well as an editor for writers of articles and books, I appreciate the challenging alliance between author and editor.

As a writer, it’s hard to have someone critique and/or correct your creative work. As an editor, it’s hard to restrain yourself from inflicting your own preferences that may change the writer’s voice, or at least intent,  in writing the work.

Authors understand the subject.

Editors understand the reader.

A good editor also understands the author must write in his/her own voice, which means the editor should not change the voice. Instead, the editor’s goal should be to show the writer why the writing isn’t clear, then potentially offer some suggestions (if possible) in ways to improve.

A good writer knows there’s more than one way to get an idea across, and just because the writer (who knows the subject well) thinks something is clearly communicated, doesn’t mean that it is.  A good editor will communicate directly with the writer about suggested changes and explain why the changes are needed.

At times the exchange may appear battle-like, but in reality when an editor and a writer create an alliance, in spite of how challenging that may be, the real winner is the reader.

If you’re an author, consider your editor’s suggestions and question the editor about why a suggestion is made if you don’t understand or like the suggestion.

If you’re an editor, consider your writer’s knowledge of the topic may be the very thing that’s making it hard for the writer to bring it to a level the reader can understand. Let the writer know what changes you’re suggesting and why.

The end result is an improved book that says what the writer intended to say–and says it clearly enough that the reader will think the writer is a genius. Remember that readers buy writers they like. A good editor will help you become just that and that’s worth the challenge of the alliance.

Happy writing!


1 Response to “Editor and Writer–A Challenging Alliance”

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