It has been my experience that all writers need a second set of eyes to look over their work. Perfection is a result that is rarely achieved by one person alone. But how is a writer to find this perfection when up to his or her eyeballs in words?
Herein lies the need for a good, no, a great editor. Lucky for me junior year I moved into a new dorm and am now rooming with a fellow Professional Writing student and editor. Her name is Taylor Puitz. (I’m going to be shameless and tell you to go check out her blog)
Taylor is my go to reader, and great friend. My writing since rooming with her has dramatically improved; mostly from her interest and eagerness to remind me of classic grammar mistakes and simple corrections.
Having an editor doesn’t mean you aren’t a good writer. You still can take credit for your concept and hours of laborious work. An editor in no way takes away from your writing. However, I do have a few simple tips about what makes a great editor and how you as the writer should care for and treat your editor.
1. An editor is in no way a crutch to lean on every second of your writing career. If you are leaning too heavily, you will know based on the amount of times your editor rolls his or her eyes or states the phrase, “Well you could look it up”.
A great editor does not just change and fix punctuation, but instead spends the time to show you what you’re doing wrong. Your editor will then ask that you hold onto that knowledge and don’t continue to make the same mistakes. This should build your writing, and keep you accountable to your craft.
2. Almost everyone knows a writer is not always worrying about periods and commas. There is a bigger overall theme happening which the writer will spend hours collecting and sorting into a readable form. This is part of the writing process, but it is also a breeding ground for mistakes. From the side character who disappears half way through the book, to the dreamy love interest’s eyes which started out brown but by chapter twelve have turned green. A second set of eyes can do wonders. Sometimes even your editor will need another person to look at what you write, which is why the more editors you can collect, the better off you’ll be.
3. Lastly I must mention the kind of editor you don’t want to befriend. He or she will know every grammar mistake known to man, but won’t be able to tell you anything without making you crawl into a ball and cry or want to attack them viciously with your pen. You want to find an editor who has honed his or her skills, but can calmly and kindly encourage you in your writing.
The doubled edged sword of this statement is that if no one is able to advise you, you might be looking at a dud piece of writing. There is a big difference between critique and failure. In this sense a good editor can be hard to find, but there are many out there, and it is your duty as a writer to grow. Happy hunting and good luck editing!