Monday, July 16, 2012

Flummoxed About The Opinion on Editors

I'm confused about some of the latest rumblings regarding the need for editors and what it is an editor should and shouldn't do. Trust your story is being thrown around. Don't let anyone mess with your vision of what the story should be. The last thing an editor should do is give suggestions on how to better your story.  

But to what extent are you talking? There are plotlines or jokes or characters that make sense in your head, that you believe needs to be on the page. Yet when you send that story out and get back comments varying from Huh? to WTF? Maybe, just maybe, your instincts were wrong. If not completely wrong, what happened between your head and the page missed the mark.

Yet, some people are saying developmental editors are useless? Then what are crit partners and beta readers? They are doing the same thing except without pay or working on a bartering system. Just like there are some bad crit partners and beta readers, there are some bad developmental editors. Does that make them unnecessary? No.

And to say giving suggestions is the last thing an editor (crit partner or beta reader) should do is beyond my reasoning. When an edtior, crit partner or beta reader points out a sentence and tells you something is confusing, this might clear it up and, gasp, God forbid rewrite your precious words... Heresy! Or tell you, hey, your beginning moves slower than molasses. Maybe if you start it here it'll read better or the pacing is on point here. Gasp. Heresy! If I'm paying someone $1,000-3000, I better damn well see some suggestions other than “This needs more here.” (<---This has made every single author I know scream with frustration. More what?)  

What's really making me rant about this unimportant contention in the first place? When you give this kind of advice you're not telling the writer who has been writing for a few years. The veteran writer has been around long enough to know they need someone else to go over their work. They may know something is wrong with the beginning but not necessarily what's wrong with it and they should get someone else to read the book. They know what's in their head may not always end up on the page. Or what does end up on the page and still misses the mark. 

You're telling a newbie writer. How in the hell can they know what they don't know? How can you tell them to have instincts and belief they haven't honed yet for themselves? While handing out this blanket statement are you bothering to explain what it is crit partners and beta readers do? The signs that you're being pigheaded about a story element and when the CP or BR are dead wrong? You're doing your readers, who are more than likely newbie writers, a disservice and throwing an entire profession under the bus. 

Nope. No one will ever know your story like you know your story. Sometimes that's part of the problem and why you're sending the story to an editor, crit partner or beta reader in the first place.


What do you think an editor, crit partner or beta should and shouldn't do?


  1. You know, here's what I think. That a newbie/inexperienced writer doesn't have that instinct yet and SOMETIMES an editor/beta reader/crit partner can suggest/change something that makes a writer's stomach churn. (Do I have to mention the word Sundries again?)
    But over the years, a writer learns what they absolutely must never, ever change...ever...and what they can compromise on.
    But it's trial and error. But having a fresh set of eyes on a book can give a writer insight to how the book actually works.
    I don't know how many times I thought "Wait. Didn't I SAY that? Oh crap!" because it was in my head, but never MADE it to the page. Good thing for crit partners and editors.

    1. Exactly, Jen. I think that's why I was confuddled about some of the statements I saw about this. You need someone else to go over your work. You need someone to say, hey, this is wonderful/crap/meh. If that means it's your editor/CP/beta reader then so be it. But to throw out an editor because some have jerked with you is throwing out the baby with the bath water.

  2. As a newbie, I have no instincts or at least, don't trust 'em. A great CP, yeah you know, or an editor is worth their weight in gold. Why diss views focused on bettering yourself? I may not believe in myself yet, but I damn well take every opinion and try to learn as much as possible from it. *steps off soapbox*

    1. It feels like a soapbox kind of day. And, you're right. A good CP or editor is worth their weight in gold. I think Jen said it best, knowing when to compromise is key. A big part of learning is also doing. I learn from doing crits and beta reads.

      All in all, it takes time.