Writers Vs. Editors – An Ancient Rivalry

Many of you know I’m a writer, but there’s a lot of you out there who don’t know I’m an editor. I love editing. It’s a totally different mindset than writing. See, editing is the more analytical part of the ‘creation’ process. Writing is the creative, flowing part and editing is the meticulous detail part.

There are a lot of good writers who are crappy editors and there are a lot of good editors who are crappy writers. There are precious few who can do both, and do them consistently well.

Me? Oh, I’m a great writer. I’m a great editor… as long as I’m not editing my stuff. I suck at editing my own work. I mean, okay, grammar and spelling and typos, I’m good at, but when it comes to things like cutting word counts, or increasing them, or when it comes to changing the way I chose to word something to make it clearer to the reader, I get stuck on, “But… but.. but.. the reader should KNOW what I meant!”


So today, I told a writer who is entering a contest that I’d take a look at her entry that was over the submission guideline’s word count. Immediately, I was able to cut 28 words from the first page, without changing the meaning of the writing at all.

Slash and scratch editing. (shudders) A writer’s worst nightmare.

I’m sure she’s somewhere behind her email cursing right now and grumbling. I still lover her anyway, and she’ll come to appreciate the experience some day when her book gets published and she sees I was actually much nicer (wink) than a publisher would have been. Though I’ll admit, she took it well.

My first experience with working with an editor other than myself was on the book The Ex Factor. I wrote three short stories that were included in this anthology. Now, the thing is, I was originally hired/contracted to edit the anthology as the lead editor. The ONLY reason I submitted stories was because the publisher had not received enough of one type of story she wanted included in it. So… I offered to write them for her. She bit and the rest is history, so to speak.

Unfortunately, you can’t edit your own stuff, not for final publication, so that left me editing the stories of the other writers, but the publisher had someone else edit MY stories. Well, I had issues with some of the things the editor did. For example, she started sentences with the word ‘but’, shortening my sentences. I don’t mind the sentences being shortened, but, I’m sorry, I’m old school, and ‘but’ should not start a sentence. It’s a conjunction – conjunction – joins, it joins, two sides of a sentence. It can’t do that if it’s the first word of a sentence!

So yes, I experience the pain of being edited. Fortunately, if you write well, there shouldn’t be too much that requires editing. Sometimes, editing really is subjective. If your editor ever says, “It just sounds better this way…” and you don’t agree, it should go the writers way.

I actually have seen publishing deals go south due to editing disagreements.

Some writers are really married to their writing.

Some editors wish they were published writers and use other writer’s work to ‘create’ something of their own.

I dunno… as an editor, I try very hard to keep the author’s tone. I look at a piece and say, “Okay, *I* wouldn’t say it this way, but is it really ‘wrong’?” If it’s not wrong, and it’s just not how *I* would prefer it, I leave it alone.

If you’re lucky enough to get to choose your editor or you are self publishing and hiring an editor, or if you are hiring an editor pre-submission to make it the best it can be… find an editor who feels the same way I do about editing.

Don’t ever lose your voice to an editor’s pen.

However, if you are already accepted for publication…. well, you have to temper your vision with the desire to be published. If you’re in a rivalry with your editor, you have to step back and ask yourself, “Is this a deal breaker? If I don’t get this my way, am I willing to walk away from the publishing deal?”

If you’re not willing to walk away, let the pen slash and scratch.

I know, you’ll cringe and it’s going to hurt to see your masterpiece ripped to shreds by an editor… but I promise you the pain only lasts until you hold the printed and bound published copy of the book in your hands.

When that happens, you’ll forget all the editing pain.

I’ve got editing on my mind today, since the first ever Accentuate Writers Anthology is currently being compiled and we are about to start the editing process.

It’s exciting!

Keep writing!

Love and stuff,