From the seasoned one

Love thy Editor!

This article speaks more to fanfiction writers than to professional writers.  As I’ve learned to write, I’ve spent a lot of time editing not only my own work, but that of friends.  There have been a lot of debates, laughter shared over hilarious mistakes, and the occasional argument.  Through all of it, I’ve found that the hardest thing to learn as a writer is this: you’re not perfect and neither is your writing!  Writers have a tendency to cling to what they have written and have a hard time letting go of it.

Sadly, I’ve had some friends that took advantage of me and my time.  I would clean up the same mistakes over and over again.  Over time, I’ve gotten to the point that I royally dread editing, mwoman_pulling_hair_outy own work as well as others.  I still have a few close friends that I edit for, but it takes some great bribery to get me to edit for new writers.  It isn’t that I don’t want to help them, it’s just that I really, really dread editing and it almost feels like having my fingernails ripped out when I sit down to do it.

To that effect, and to hopefully keep others from reaching my level of editorial dread, I’ve come up with a few rules that every writer should follow when asking someone to edit their work for them.

Love thy Editor: Seven Rules Every Writer Should Follow:

  1. Love thy Editor.  Be very appreciative of the time your editor is willing to spend looking at your work.  Your editor is taking time out of their lives, their own writing, family time, etc. to go over your material.  Never take that time for granted.  Example: Don’t send your editor thirty pages and expect them to return the edit within a day or two.
  2. Be objective and don’t take it personally when your editor points out mistakes, plot holes or weak characters.  The purpose of asking someone to edit is to make your writing stronger.
  3. Don’t waste your editor’s time.  Do your very best to clean up your own mistakes before asking someone else to look at your work.  They shouldn’t have to clean up obvious mistakes that any spell/grammar checker would catch.
  4. This goes back to number 1 & 3, but if your editor consistently points out the same error, next time they edit for you, make sure you fix these first.  Don’t make them waste time repeating themselves.
  5. Especially if you’re new to writing, spend a little time re-learning basic grammar.  It’s amazing what we forget from school and the mistakes we make without realizing it.  Your editor shouldn’t have to spend time pointing out run-on sentences, lack of commas and punctuation.
  6. Pay special attention to notes in the margins.  Sometimes there are things so drastically wrong that an editor may make a note in the margin, but doesn’t fix it for you because the problem calls for a major re-write.  Don’t ignore these comments.
  7. When asking someone to edit, be clear what you’re asking for.  If you just want a quick read through or a thorough edit and when you would like the edit complete versus the editor’s available time.  Helps to keep misunderstandings to a minimum.

Remember, editors are only there to help you find errors/problems with your story and to improve as a writer, not to re-write your entire story for you.  I’m sure more experienced writers and editors have more to add to this list.  Just remember, at the end of the day, it is your story.  It is a reflection of you.  If you don’t agree with an editor’s suggested changes, that’s fine, but do so with grace and appreciation for the time they have given your work.

*Thanks to my friend @drowningblonde for a quick read through and additional entry.  Otherwise it would have been six rules instead of seven!