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How To Be A Good Editor


fPlenty of people openly complained on the Public Portal about my first submission, "How to Piss Off an Editor", and in the same breath wrote to me privately; saying they wished they'd had the guts to say what I had and that I was right. They couldn't believe nobody had thought about it previously.

So I've decided to be my irreverent self again and write the counterpart of "How to Piss Off and Editor". I know that lots of you will want to crucify me for saying the things I will, but I feel it's only fair to the writers that I do.

So here it is, in no particular order, what I think makes a good editor.

• A good editor doesn't simply read and correct spelling and grammatical mistakes;

That would be much too easy if all we had to do was read and correct those kinds of mistakes.

• A good editor gets down and dirty with the story and isn't afraid to shred it to pieces if need be;

That doesn't mean tearing our writer's heart out but we have to stop being sissies; pussy-footing around our writers. They are big boys and girls and they can hear what's what.

• A good editor doesn't just praise but also says why and where the praise is due;

It's too easy to give pats on the shoulder; we need to get more in depth in our analysis of the work submitted to us.

• A good editor critiques and is not afraid to say what's on his/her mind;

Constructive criticism is difficult, even for us, but it's also the thing the writers crave the most. Let's not be afraid to say what we don't like and why. No writer can hate you for being honest with them (at least, not if he/she is serious with his/her writing).

• A good editor knows that some writers are like infants and need to be taught what's wrong and what's right;

It's better to give too much information than too little. Even if he, ultimately, has the last word with his work, you're still the one who may have a broader sense of what is right or wrong because you're standing back from it.

• A good editor needs to establish a relationship with his/her writer before he/she can do a good job;

In my opinion, compulsory if your goal is to improve the current, and future, projects of the writer.

• A good editor needs to see and understand where his writer is coming from if he wants to understand where the writer's characters are coming from;

Self explanatory in itself but too many editors forget that writers come from all walks of life and what they deem "unrealistic" might be this particular writer's reality.

• A good editor involves himself in the writer's writing process and puts his foot down when a character acts "out of character" inappropriately;

Don't be afraid to hash over ideas with your writer; in the end he can only gain from it.

• A good editor knows when to stroke his writer's ego and when to kick his butt;

Kicking butt and stroking egos must be imparted sparingly and with much care. You don't want to do too much or too little.

• A good editor isn't afraid to say he/she is wrong;

The hardest thing for us to do; admit that we are wrong and that we make mistakes.

• A good editor insists on consistency from his writer and doesn't back off when the writer cringes;

If your writer has always made you proud and suddenly lowers his standards you are obligated to say so. The writer might complain that you are unfair but when he cools down he'll realize that you want the best for him.

• A good editor is like a mother for his writer; always there in time of crisis but overjoyed when the writer stretches his wings and soars;

What can be more rewarding for you as an editor than to see your writer do well and be praised by others for his work?

Last but not least, praise your writers, thank them for giving you the privilege of working with them, and pick their spirits up if they receive bad reviews. Don't be afraid to tell them what you like about them, not just their writing skill.

Good writers are a really rare breed these days; acknowledge their individuality and what they bring to your life as an editor.

Thanks to the wonderful writers who helped me become a much better editor. I wouldn't be the editor I am now but for them. Tact prevents me naming them all here, but they know who they are!

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byLadyCibelle© 14 comments/ 45441 views/ 6 favorites

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