Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Inside the Editor's Den: Strengths & Weaknesses

*Breaking News*


No one is perfect.

And that includes editors.

So, in part seven of our September series Inside the Editor’s Den, we had to ask BRP editors the following question:



What are your strengths and weaknesses as an editor?









Linda Lane
Website | Denver Editor | FB
Linda Lane - I have a strong sense of story, character development, and dialogue, which makes me a better fiction editor than a nonfiction editor. Because I rely on The Chicago Manual of Style as my guide, I am not well qualified to edit works that have been written using a different style.



Shonell Bacon
Website | FB | Tw
Shonell Bacon - I think my biggest strength is that I truly care about the author. I want to know her purpose for writing the project, what she wants readers to get from the project, her concerns about the project, and then as editor (thinking like a reader), I work to help the author develop a story that delivers everything she needs. I also love grammar and all things spelling and punctuation and words, and that helps as an editor. A weakness of mine is that I don't edit as quickly as I could--or should. I really want the client to have my best, so sometimes, that means a client cannot get a quick turnaround.



Maryann Miller
Website | FB | Tw
Maryann Miller - My strengths are my innate sense of story, as well as my ability to cut the fluff, so to speak. So many writers overwrite by tacking on an unneeded phrase, and I have become quite good at spotting those. I also have a good sense of the rhythm of a story and can tell when that has gone off track. My weakness right now is that it takes me longer than it used to to get through a manuscript.




Elle Carter Neal
Website | FB | Tw
Elle Carter Neal - I have a high catch rate of errors and typos on the first read – which is why I correct them when I see them, despite the possibility that corrected paragraphs may be cut. The more familiar I become with a piece of text, the easier it is for errors to slip past, so I prefer not to offer my services as a final proofreader if I’ve done any editing work on the manuscript. I’m a perfectionist, so I sometimes sit on a chapter for a while until I can put my finger on what it is that triggered my spidy-sense, and I also read and re-read the chapter a number of times before I’m happy to sign off on it. I also require final sight of each chapter after the author has accepted or rejected the edits, because it’s easy for spacing and punctuation to disappear or double up at this point. So, I’m not the quickest editor on the block.



A Writer’s Takeaway


Remember the breaking news at the top of this post: no one is perfect?

It is important for you to realize that when looking for an editor. Because no one is perfect, it is important for you to ask a potential editor what she thinks her strengths and weaknesses are. After doing that, you can decide if her strengths fit your needs. For example, if you need an APA research article edited, you probably wouldn't pick an editor who solely focused on Chicago Manual of Style. If an editor is strong in story development (and all that that entails), but her ability to spot the most unheard of grammar error is weak, you might use her to perform a content edit, but not for copy editing or proofreading.

As always, the initial goal is to know what you need and what concerns you have with your literary baby, and then find an editor whose strengths will help you elevate your writing.

11 comments :

  1. Your takeaway is right on the money, Shon: no one editor excels in all aspects of editing. I find it interesting that none of us are fast editors. (Even though I didn't mention it in my comments above, I'm not either.) While that likely contributes to our thoroughness, I've found it doesn't necessarily please a writer who's in a hurry to get his or her book to press and who believes we're slowing down the release of the next New York Times best seller. It's sad when writers don't understand that editors look for much more than misspelled words, missing commas and end punctuation, and capitalization errors. It takes time and diligence to create overall excellence in a finished project. As you note, no editor is perfect; however, slow, meticulous work by the right editors creates a polished manuscript that will represent its author well. The extra time and effort on the part of the editor(s) is worth the wait.

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    1. It is definitely worth the wait, Linda. And I like what you said about writers and the tendency of some to want their books finished in lightning speed. Until they are a part of the process of having a book edited, I'm not sure they realize how much time it takes to actually edit a book.

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  2. What I take away from this excellent post is the realization that an editor who claims to work fast is probably not the editor I'd need for evaluating big picture plot issues.

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    Replies
    1. Especially if they are working very fast AND have multiple projects to work through.

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  3. I was so pleased to see that I am not the only editor who does not work at warp speed. I think that is more possible when just doing a line edit/proof, but not a content edit. Like Elle said, sometimes we need time to really hone in on just what is not working in a scene or chapter. I find that so true with writing, too. Just the other day, I got an idea for what was not working in a book I have not worked on in 6 months. LOL

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    Replies
    1. That sounds about right, Maryann, LOL. I, too, had a similar experience recently.

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  4. How do you decide whether a writer is right for you? Do you do a page or two of trial edits to see if the two of you can work together?

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    Replies
    1. Hi there, Polly!

      I do offer potential clients a sample edit.

      I also have a Google form that I ask potential clients to fill out so that I can learn about them, their writing experience, their project, and their needs.

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    2. I usually go by the genres and themes I'm not prepared to work on (e.g., horror, romance, spirituality). But also working chapter by chapter makes it quite easy to see if our styles are just not going to mesh, or if there is a non-negotiable difference in values or philosophy that might make the project unpleasant to continue.

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    3. Thanks, Ladies. I know the first editor I had when I didn't know what I didn't know, was a ghost writer. Later I found out he didn't know what POV was, and since I didn't, I didn't know I was missing something in his edits.

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    4. Polly, I always do a sample edit of about ten pages or so to let the potential client see how I work and whether we will be a good fit. I appreciate it when an editor affords me the same courtesy.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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