Writer vs. Editor

So, as some of you know, Desert Palm Press signed me up as an author. I couldn’t be happier. It’s been one of my dreams to get published, and I’m so grateful it’s happening.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to, however, is the journey*.

The journey will be…interesting.

As all of you know by now, I’m an editor. I have my own freelance company, and it’s something I’m specializing in at Portland State University’s graduate program.

But both writing and editing are two facets of my professional life. To be fair, I started writing earlier, but really, editing will probably pay the bills later on in life.

Anyway, inspired by Indigo Editing book designer and publications consultant Vinnie Kinsella’s post, I figured it might be fun to do a back and forth of what a writer would say and what an editor would say.

(And, yes, I’ve thought all of these things at some point in both my writing and editing careers.)

Writer: I’ve worked hard to pick the perfect title for this manuscript. It’s a real eye-catcher and reflects what I want the reader to understand about my story.
Editor: Does the title reflect what’s inside or give too much of something away? Is it too long? Too short? Are there any other titles out there like this one? I need to do some research.

Writer: I’ve slaved over every word of this manuscript, and it’s perfection.
Editor: It’s not perfect. There are thousands of words in this book and chances are there will be some misspellings, misplaced commas, dangling participles, and characters whose hair changes color half way through.

Writer: I’ve edited this draft a few times all ready, why do I need to look at it again? It takes such a long time finish this.
Editor: There are many stages of editing. Developmental. Copyediting. Proofreading. All of these stages help make the work perfect and all of the stages are necessary. Yes, it might take a while, but it’s worth it.

Writer: That time/place/character description isn’t important. I should just move onto the next scene.
Editor: The readers can’t see inside your head. We need those descriptions in order to ground the reader in your world.

Writer: I’m breaking the rules in order to create this really cool sentence structure/paragraph style/grammar thing. The readers will love it!
Editor: I need to make sure that rule-breaking sentence structure/paragraph style/grammar thing is consistent throughout the entire novel. The readers will need that consistency.

Writer: I need to write everything down, everything is necessary, and everything is needed. The readers will want everything, even the tangents.
Editor: I need to cut some of this for clarity, especially the tangents that don’t belong in the novel. The readers will thank me for this.

Writer: This minor character is totally relevant. It’s my baby.
Editor: This minor character has nothing to do with the plotline. We have to cut them. Or figure out a way to incorporate them more.

Writer: I can’t wait to see this in print/ebook/audiobook!
Editor: I can’t wait to send this through up through the chain of publishing and then see this in print/ebook/audiobook!

We’re both going for the same thing—a polished story—but we see it in very different ways.

And with this journey, I’m not going to be on the editing side of things, a side I’m used to being on and have been on for quite some time now, I’m going to be on the writing side of it. I’m going to be the Writer on this equation.

It’s going to be a wild ride.

Warm regards,

*Aside from holding a physical copy of a book I wrote in my hands, of course. What? I’m old school.


5 thoughts on “Writer vs. Editor

  1. Haha very clever. I know the feeling. It felt like my editor was ripping my first novel to pieces (especially when she suggested I change some major plot issues…) but in the end I realized that the best books get a second opinion. You might be great as a writer, but sometimes you need a few nudges (or a thousand) to steer you in the right direction.

    • And I’m on the other end of the spectrum for now, giving all those thousand nudges. I always feel hesitant about it, like the author might hate me or something, but I know it’s for a good cause! It’s going to be very interesting to be on the author side of things. Thanks for the comment!

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