A few weeks ago. I got a lovely e-mail from one of “my” authors with a link to this article about the author/editor relationship. The subject line read I guess I owe you flowers. I’m blessed by these small things.
It’s a great article. The author knows what he’s talking about and represents the process accurately.
A novel is more than just putting words on paper. It is an amalgam of textured prose, tight plots and subplots, characters
that[who] need to speak and act realistically, and a theme that must reveal itself on page one and be consistent all the way to culmination near the final paragraphs and if possible in the last line. For most mere mortals I believe it is next to impossible to hold all that together in one head, to keep in mind all the subtleties in every line, every bit of backstory … That is where your editor comes in. …
I’ve met authors over the years—every one unpublished—who informed me that some editor had told them that with revisions their work might be publishable. When I evince astonishment that they didn’t leap at the chance to do so, to a man they stare at me as if I’m some sort of troll, and they walk away convinced that I have sold my soul. Maybe. I spent ten years praying that some editor would say those words to me, that I’d get the chance to be edited. And the thing that those authors don’t know, that they’ll never understand, is that I’m a better writer for it.
(The strike-throughs are mine; you know how I feel about the over- and misuse of that.)
I have met one or two authors who resisted being edited—who had an answer for everything (“That is how my character would react” … “It’s my voice” … “That really happened to me”). But I have yet to meet a serious author who didn’t roll up his or her sleeves and get to work. Perhaps after a day or two of teeth-grinding. :) I have yet to meet a serious author who doesn’t welcome—and ultimately enjoy—the editorial process.
Read the article. And remember: your editor is your friend. Really!
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