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Does everyone need an editor?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Incanus, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    If the editor is better than you, then why are they editors and not successful writers?
     
  2. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Because editing and writing are different skills.

    Let me help you with an analogy, do you think Tom Brady's QB coach (Josh McDaniels) is a better QB than Tom Brady?

    I am curious, have you ever spoken to a very successful writer about the importance or role of their editor?

    Or perhaps you were just trolling with that question and I have fallen into your trap?
     
  3. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    I was replying to someone else who said it.

    You and the prior poster keep bringing up sports. It doesn't matter how knowledagable or skilled you are at a sport if you're too old to play it. No one expects a coach who is clearly too old, to be able to play the sport at that level. Writing and editing are not activities that rely on youth in the same way. Saying the editor is better than you is ludicrous. It's just a different perspective that's all. Better than you at what? Finding grammar mistakes? Grammar programs can do that very easily. Fixing problems in your own story? How about no. Editors and writers are not in competition in any way. Editors are there if writers feel they need that boost. But if a writer knows exactly what they want, paying for an editor is senseless. If a publisher wants to assign you one then great.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
  4. I have heard it said, and I agree with the statement that, an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client and an idiot for an attorney. There are several reasons for this: 1) it is more difficult to be objective when looking at your case from an "insiders" perspective; 2) you are less likely to recognize the weaknesses of your case and witnesses; 3) you are less likely to know when a good deal comes because you often believe you are entitled to the whole enchilada. You very well could be a great attorney, but you are still at a significant disadvantage because of your own built-in biases.

    Similarly, an author, like an attorney, can be very very good at what they do, but they are still often blind to their own flaws, and oddly enough, also blind to their own strengths. A good editor can minimize the flaws and make the strengths shine because they have an objective viewpoint of the work. Further, because they often look at these things cold they are more likely to pick up on mistakes or missing pieces of information that an author may inherently know and understand but may not have properly communicated.
     
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  5. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    Writing groups have objective viewpoints of the work. Beta readers. Friends. Who don't charge you.
     
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Now I know you are trolling.

    Age has nothing to do with it. McDaniels and others at any age were never as good athletes as the people they coach. There are reasons for that, but I suspect you aren't interested in learning about coaching theory.

    I am quite confident in saying:

    a) "Most professional editors are better at editing than most authors" and

    b) "Using a good quality editor greatly enhances the possibility of success of selling your work either to a publisher or to the public."

    I notice you never did answer the question about if you had ever spoken to a successful writer about their editor(s).
     
  7. Except they often don't. Friends, all too often, want to soften the blow. An editor doesn't. A related maxim is that you don't hire your friends as attorneys because they too are too close to the situation to be at their absolute best. The relationship should be fairly arm's length and professional, in my estimation.

    Further, you have absolutely 0 quality "guarantees" when you rely on friends, writing groups, and family.
     
  8. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I like beta readers, critique groups and others who read my stuff and help me out for certain purposes. Especially when they are working pros.

    However, for most people there are real limits to the skills and experience that they bring to the table. As one well respected writer and writing teacher likes to say "Writing seems to be the only place where a group of amateurs get together to teach each other how to be professional." (paraphrasing).
     
  9. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    Troll? Are you a freelance editor is that it? You want to shill your useless profession?

    Plently of athletes get into coaching after their career is over. Gareth Southgate, England football team for example. Kevin Keegan. Glen Hoddle. To say the coach was never as good as the people they coach is wrong. Athletes can very easily get into coaching. Many do after their career is over.

    If you're talking editing where both have no knowledge of the story prior to getting the job, the the editor will be superior, but not when we're talking about the writer's story. The writer has the knowlege of years, on their own story. The writer is supposed to use that knowledge and fix the vast majority of the problems, before an editor ever sees it.

    I notice you never did answer the question about if you had ever spoken to a successful writer about their editor(s) [/Quote]

    They're not necessary to sell a work to a publisher. In between modern grammar and spellcheck programs, writers groups, writing forums, beta readers, you don't need to pay an editor before you submit. If your story has problems an editor can fix then the publisher's editor will fix it. I've listened to freelance editors and heard what they can and can't do. I'm not against successful writers having their editor assigned to them and using them. I'm against paying for it out of pocket. Now if a self published writer wants pay them and can afford it, hell, do what you want with your money. But for people who struggle, don't feel like you have to have one. You don't. You know your story best, you know where the problems are, any uncertainty, use the internet, use your writing group, use the feedback from beta readers and do some research.
     
  10. Where did this turn into a discussion of freelance editors alone? Further, the question asks whether a writer needs an editor. The answer is generally going to be yes, for the reasons already stated, like a writer lacking objectivity for their works. Russ is an attorney, btw, with a wife that is a published author and has some degree of knowledge about the business.

    As for the coaching point, most coaches aren't highly successful athletes. Looking at my local pro and college teams not one of them was a successful pro athlete and every single one of them are great coaches. (Kyle Whittingham, Quin Snyder, and Mike Petke)
     
  11. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    Everyone,

    Remember the guiding principle:
    Please avoid making hostile, confrontative posts.

    Thank you.
     
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  12. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    All of those things are good things to do. And on top of all that an good editor will likely make the work better.

    Sure, some people can't afford them, and that is too bad. The places them at a disadvantage in a competitive field. But then again so does not being able to afford a computer.

    People have to make financial choices every day. But experience and reason tell me that people who hire a good editor to improve their work enhance their chances of success. Each person who is on that road has to decide for themselves what financial sacrifices and risks they are willing to take to be successful.
     
    Black Dragon likes this.
  13. Nimue

    Nimue Auror

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    Forgive me if I’m misinformed or out of date—I’m not at the stage of serious research about publication myself—but doesn’t this depend on the route you’re taking?

    If you’re submitting for traditional publication, a self-hired editor is more of the optional, competitive-edge tool we’re talking about here. You could self-edit, get beta readers, and count on an assigned editor by the publishing house. You still need to win over an agent (or win the lottery) and having a professionally-edited work could help that.

    If you’re self-publishing, a freelance editor becomes more of a necessity, depending on the process and end product you’re aiming for. If you’re not sure what route you’re taking, or if you’re planning on submitting traditionally a few places and falling back on self-publishing, having an editor at that stage really depends on what state you want the work in before you consider publication. If it’s a vast epic series that you want to pour time and money into regardless of a green light from agents or publishers, then maybe you do need a developmental/project-committed editor early on.

    It’s not really clear what Incanus is aiming for, much less everyone else. (Hello Incanus, by the way! It’s good to see you back and polishing your novel!)
     
  14. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Just as an addition to this important thought, some agents will suggest that your work is sound but not yet ready to submit to a publisher. They will often then recommend that you have a freelance editor work on the piece before they agree to represent it or they will submit it.

    In these circumstances you need to be careful, and make sure that you have a reputable agent of quality. There are definitely some less than scrupulous agents out there who get a kick back from referring you to certain editors and their interest and advice may not be made in good faith. There are lots of good ones out there you can trust, but there are all sorts of people (some agents included) who are happy to prey on people's writing aspirations unfairly.
     
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  15. Incanus

    Incanus Archmage

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    Folks sure have some strong opinions on this subject—should have seen that coming.

    For myself, I appreciate the wide variety of viewpoints expressed here. At the moment, I don’t necessarily subscribe to any one of them. But I’d also say that I believe the vast majority of writers would benefit from having their work professionally edited.

    My case might be a little unusual, but I don’t know for sure. Of all the different skills that go into writing fiction, I’d say my greatest strengths lay in my technical language skills (and maybe some story concepts). Very few proofreading errors appear, even in my first draft. I am the sworn enemy of ambiguity and by the time I’ve gone over a piece three or four times, those things gets pretty well cleared up without anyone else’s input. Most copyediting issues start to fade with each edit pass.

    My areas of weakness have more to do with character depth, depicting character relationships, subtext, pacing, transitions, getting the level of detail just right, and other story execution issues. I have nowhere near the confidence in these areas that I have for language, grammar, and clarity.

    Given the chance, I’d probably swap these two sets of skills, seeing how story is more important than language for most readers. But since that’s not an option, I’ve got to work with what I have.

    When I feel I’ve got the right novel, I’d be happy to throw down a bunch of money on it. I want my books to be the best they can be. But my first novel? I’m not sure yet…

    (Hey, Nimue! Good to see you here too. While I may not have been posting here, the work on my novel has continued unabated.)
     
  16. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    For your first book, you need to think less about the final quality of your story, and more about the quality of your skills. Why not drop a few dollars to work with an editor for just a short stretch - say, the first five chapters - just to help figure out where your skills are, what you need to do to work on them, and whether you're on the right track? I mean, this is kind of random as advice, but it can help to shake things up a bit for yourself.
     
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  17. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    OP: if your problem is plot, pacing, characterization and other storytelling skills, the only way to resolve this is to read more. You could...could potentially...hire a developmental editor for the genre (and familiar with the subgenre) you are writing. For example, years ago I paid for a developmental edit ($200 an hour kid you not) for romance and it was the bomb. However, it was once in a lifetime experience. For me, it's come down to reading a ton. Books...books...and more books.
     
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    >My areas of weakness have more to do with character depth, depicting character relationships, subtext, pacing, transitions, getting the level of detail just right, and other story execution issues.

    Just ftr, a copy editor will indeed address these things. Not at the highest level, but s/he will definitely be able to point out where a character lacks depth, where relationships are underdeveloped or not believable, where pacing flags, probably nothing on subtext. und so weiter. For the further record, you can and should ask about these things when corresponding with prospective editors.

    I said it before but I'll repeat it here: I'm in sympathy about spending thousands on a first novel. I'm not convinced having help with five chapters will help you with the other twenty-five, especially on a first novel. I managed to make entirely new mistakes every few chapters or so. Beta readers and thorough self-editing may be sufficient for this one, assuming you have several more novels lined up waiting to be written.
     
  19. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Chessie2Chessie2, I'm not arguing, but I'll juxtapose. (how's that for a dodge?)

    I'm 66 years old. I've been consuming books by the armload for six decades, across a wide range of genres. I'm sure this must have helped me in some obscure way, but none of it helped in any specific way until I actually began writing. Even then, after ten years of writing seriously, I can count on one hand the number of actual techniques I've noticed. I have never understood how reading was supposed to help writing.

    I compare that to what I have learned from crit groups and beta readers, as well as reading in forums such as this one--that is, reading *about* writing. I can count on both hands and both feet the useful things I've learned from that quarter, and still have plenty left over. Maybe I'll start a separate thread where people can articulate what specifically they learn from reading. I hear the advice so often, I must be missing something.
     
  20. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    It's in the little things you notice. It's why I don't plot. When we read, we take in the subtleties that make a genre what it is, story what it is. All of those things add up in your head and your subconscious knows how to turn it into story. I just sit down and write and trust that my subconscious knows what it's doing, where it's taking me, and there are twists and turns I never could've thought up on my own that occur. I think it's from reading and catching what other authors do. At least, that's my theory.
     
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