Envisioning editors: I’m starting to think I’ve got it wrong.
My understanding of editors took a turn over the last couple of days. I replied to a tweet from a writer. They said they were struggling with cutting down a piece to fit a publication’s 5K word limit. I suggested, maybe have a freelance editor look at it. After all, taking a chainsaw to our well-loved words is what editors do. The reply I received was that the piece had already been “workshopped” and an editor would not be necessary.
I try to empathize with people hitting a snag in their work. My Firstborn regularly calls me, using me as a sounding board. I don’t offer advice as much as an ear. So, when my suggestion was summarily rejected, part of me said, well, this writer has hit a snag, it’s not me. I couldn’t help saying, “yet here you are, editing,” when told an editor wasn’t necessary, though.
But the part about “workshopping” in the context of talking about editors struck me as odd. I thought about the different roles an editor performs.
Dara Rochlin keeps me going in the right direction. She functions as both a copy editor and developmental editor. She’s also a friend. Because of the friend part, she bounces ideas off of me. Look for a snippet based on an image she sent me shortly. Her long-suffering husband, Jeff, gave me the idea for a location on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles for Dragon’s Discovery. The lovely and talented #flutegirl, Alyson Rochlin, has been my Dragons beta reader for a while now. Jason, Aly’s older brother, provides needed expertise for gaming. I also flip the role with him, reading and offering notes on his work. So, the family is part of the team.
That’s why maybe my perception of what an editor does for others is skewed. But here’s the thing, naturally I work with other editors. I’ve worked with acquisitons and developmental editors on nonfiction projects, from the Arcadia books and The History Press. Then there are all the editors for tech publications. So, It’s not like my exposure is to a single person.
I had a time getting the Introduction to one of the Images of America books down to 1200 words. Dara got me there. She “workshops” my stuff. Editors offer suggestions. Sometimes, they insist on things. It’s part of the process.
What are your experiences with editors?