How to Learn and Grow From Each Editor
I’ve heard a lot of my fellow author friends talking about their editing process, and how much they DREAD getting their manuscript back from their editor. I can understand that—after all, there are few things more daunting than seeing page after page of corrections, mistakes, and edits. It’s enough to make anyone feel like quitting!
But you know what, I like to take the opposite approach to the editing process. Of anything, it’s one of my FAVORITE parts of the entire novel-writing process! (After the “telling the story” bit, of course.)
I’m guilty of being a perfectionist when I write. I have impossibly high standards for myself, so I’m never content unless I’m certain the book I turn out is as perfect as I can make it. I’m fully aware that I’m not perfect, but I’ll be damned if that stops me from trying!
I see working with an editor as a way of learning where I need to improve. The more mistakes and edits I get back in my manuscripts, the happier I am. Instead of taking it as an indicator that I’m unskilled as a writer, I feel like they’re the editor’s way of making me a better writer. Someone is literally telling me, “You’re doing this wrong!” They’re doing me a favor by highlighting the things I need to improve, so I can stop making those mistakes in the future.
As an example, I’ll take the awesome editor that works for Dragonblade Publishing, the publisher that put out Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1). When I got the manuscript back from him, I found he had deleted HUNDREDS (I’m going to say 500+) commas from my writing and either split the sentences in two or let them run without the need for punctuation. He left a note saying, “Boy, you LOVE your commas, don’t you?”
As I went through the edits, I realized that a lot of the changes he’d made actually improved the way the sentences read. I had to reject a few changes that I felt detracted from the flow, but for the most part they were good.
So when I sat down to write Queen of Thieves Book 2, I tried to follow the “fewer commas, please!” suggestion he’d made. This suggestion slightly changed my writing style, leading to a leaner, more precise, faster-paced story. Such a small change, but such a visible result!
I’ve come to enjoy the editing process—not because I like being told I’m wrong, but because I can use the mistakes highlighted as a way to improve my writing in the future. I actually seek out the more hard-ass editors because I want them to whip both me and my manuscript into shape. The more mistakes they point out, the more mistakes I can eliminate from my writing style. That will lead to better and better manuscripts, which in turn will lead to better and better stories. In the end, isn’t that the purpose of being a writer?
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