If you’ve ever completed a story or a longer manuscript you’ve experienced a freeing rush of relief. You’ve invested days, or at least hours, in the writing. Endured the anguish of writing your hero into an inescapable corner. Perhaps you even shed a few tears over your hopes of ever finishing the piece and getting it published.
And what’s the next step you’re encouraged to take? You’re expected to hand your fledgling masterpiece over to someone who lives with a red pencil stuck behind their ear.
You cower behind your desk, sobbing, “But what if an editor rewrites my story so that I don’t even recognize it?”
That’s not likely to happen.
The editing process is a partnership between the creative mind of the writer and the discerning eye of the editor. It takes both to craft the finest product.
Think of yourself as a sculptor. You’ve taken an amorphous idea, shaped, and molded it into something a reader recognizes.
“Ah, yes,” he says. “Not only is this a story, but it’s a fictionalized adventure based on a historical event.” Or perhaps she is pleased to discover you’ve crafted an inspirational memoir.
It’s time to find the rough edges you left in the first few chapters when you wrote so enthusiastically you rushed through this section. Or to excavate the paragraphs where you couldn’t decide how much of your vast amount of research was essential, so you included every bit.
If you are the sculptor, the editor is the polishing stone.
Here’s the thing. A good editor doesn’t have any interest in changing your story into something else. She only wants to help you present your best writing possible.
She knows when and where to file down a glaring seam or to build up the structure in a saggy spot. If the writer has done his job, the editor only has to refine that work.
Yes, your manuscript may look like it’s bleeding when it’s returned. You may receive pages of notes about weak points or inconsistencies. That’s good. If my stories came back without a single mark, I’d be looking for another editor. Even after several iterations and phases of self-editing, my work needs another eye.
Here is where you take a deep breath and repeat out loud: “The editor is my friend. We are partners. Her suggestions make my story shine.” Repeat as necessary until you find your ideal editor and send your infant novel into her care.
Not only will you recognize your manuscript when your editor sends the pages back. You’ll brush away a tear of pride as you hold them in your hands and say, “I didn’t realize the full potential you had.”
But your editor did.
If you’d like to work with me this year, I have a few spots open through the end of the year. Email me at Suzanne@TransformationalEditor.com and let’s start a conversation about how I may help you attain your writing dreams.