Long ago, when I was ten, I proudly typed out my first story on an old blue electric typewriter. I handed the finished product over to Mom and returned to my humming typewriter to write my next masterpiece.
A few minutes later, my mother handed the story back and told me how much she liked it. I was positively glowing until I saw red ink scrawled all over my precious story.
Mom, the English teacher, had corrected/edited the whole thing.
I was gutted.
"I thought you liked it!" I burst into tears.
"I do! But you need to fix a few things," my mother answered.
And thus I learned the joys and heartache of the editor's red pen.
Years later I still pull manuscripts out of the mail with my mother's red ink scrawl littering the pages. I always send everything I write to her. She always tells me how much she loves it. Her red marks show me where I screwed up.
And how do I feel when I see all those tags, highlights and red marks?
Over the years I have learned that I cannot truly edit my own work. I often see what I know should be in a sentence, not what is actually there. I am NOT one of those writers who are convinced each word they write is perfection and that to have their work edited is to destroy it. I know I'm a total goof that can type fast, but I also have an internal muse that talks faster than my fingers can move.
I'm a good storyteller as a whole, but sometimes I really tangle up words and plot lines. That is why I need someone to tell me how to fix the messes I sometimes make. I accept my imperfections and that I need to be edited. It is just part of the process.
Yep, folks, I'm a writer who admits that I love my editing notes.
I'll be honest; sometimes those red notes make me want to tear my hair out. Most of the time the edits are simple ("use its not it's" "you accidentally put Katie's name instead of Jenni" "they're drinking tea, not coffee"), but sometimes it ends up being a big plot hole you could drive a fleet of tanks through.
A good solid editor will always be able to help a writer shape the work into a story that isn’t just good, but great. A good editor will identify issues in your plotting and characterization.
An editor will make suggestions that will help you revise the work into a stronger narrative. An editor will help shave down rambling run-on sentences and kill repetitive words. An editor will help a writer create the best version of their book possible.
So do you need an editor?
Never deceive yourself into believing otherwise.
Whether you want to self-publish your work or you’re polishing up your manuscript for submission to agents and publishers, I highly recommend hiring a good editor.
Author, THE FIRST DAYS
July 5, 2011 from Tor