Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thoughts On Editing and Being Edited

I have a monster labor-of-love manuscript lurking nearby that I have grudgingly agreed to edit. I'm a bit worried, because the author is quite in love with his words and had much of the draft memorized. This, as most editors can tell you, does not bode well.

I once revised and edited a book for a publisher and asked them how they wanted the manuscript mark-up done. I wondered if they wanted to show the author every suggested change.

I received the following response:

We find it horrifies many authors to see what's been done to their work. We'd rather send him the edited manuscript with all the edits in place and have him read it anew. Many times an author won't even notice that his words have been changed or rearranged. It often makes for smoother sailing for all involved.

I have found this to be true over and over again. If an author sees the red edits doing war with the original words in black, the tendency is to become defensive and / or discouraged. However, such negative emotions are unwarranted.

A good editor never looks at the manuscript as an opportunity to deface black print and replace it with red. A good editor thinks only of the project's ultimate good.

If you are fortunate enough to have someone edit your work, consider not looking at the markup. Consider, instead, only reading the results of the edit. See if any glaring problems leap at you. Read with fresh eyes, if at all possible. Remember: your responsibility is not to your original text. Your responsibility is to your reader. In most instances, your editor shares that responsibility. Revel in that support rather than rebel against it!

What are your thoughts? Any experiences with editors (good, bad, or otherwise) that you care to share?

1 comment:

Georganna Hancock M.S. said...

Not only does revealing markup/tracking changes discourage the writer, it takes ever so much longer for the editor to do! No one would pay the hourly rate for that type of freelance professional editing. Would someone?