The Romance Review

The Romance Reviews

Monday, January 17, 2011

Editing: The Necessary Evil!


This year I see great things for all us writers. I see less procrastination, I see more sales, I see more creativity and more new story lines and plots. You know what I don’t see?

Less EDITING! Urgh!

Okay, first off, these past few months have been very productive for me. I now have five books under contract coming out at various times this year, two will be coming out within the next couple of months!

I’m also finishing up two other stories to submit, so right now I’m on a roll. The roadblock is the editing.

Now, like the title implies, this is something we cannot and SHOULD NOT avoid. But don’t you just hate it?

Actually I don’t.

WHAT!?!? You may be asking in horror.

Let me explain quickly.

If you have the right kind of editor (which I do), then the editing process should be a breeze if not very productive. I’ve learned so much from the editors I’ve come in contact with. They have given me tips, tricks, ideas and support. They have in no way, tried to change my story.

I’ve read and heard a lot of authors out there that get pissed, leave the epublisher or what have you because they say the editor was trying to rewrite their story.

I don’t know how true that is. It could be perception.

For example, did the editor ask you to show not tell? (I’m a victim of that). Did he/she ask you to use less passive verbs? (Guilty as charged too). Did he/she suggest that a character respond a certain way to an action that made more sense and was more believable? Did he/she suggest that you get some facts straight in your story, so when readers read your book, they won’t toss it across the room, because they do not believe the storyline?

I know when we write our stories and send them out, it’s like giving birth. These are our babies. We hold the words we put on paper (or computer screen) as written in stone. Not to be touched, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The above examples are not changing your story, it’s making it better, stronger, tighter.

Changing it would be, your main character is a rich tycoon looking for simplicity in his life and your editor comes along and says “Hey, why not make him homeless and he realizes through the story that the best things in life are free.”

That would be changing your story because now the plot, the experience of your character, doesn’t gel with your original story line. It’s been compromised .

Changing passive to active voice doesn’t do that. But it does put more punch in your story.

So yes, I hate getting my manuscript back and seeing all those “Track Changes” lines all over the place or seeing the passive verb “was” highlighted throughout my story. But in the end once I make the change and go with some of the suggestions (and don’t get me wrong, there are some things in your story worth fighting for, so stand your ground with your editor if you think you’re right), my story reads better and it’s as tight as a drum!


  1. Case well stated, Stephanie. I feel exactly the same way and isn't a joy to work with a skilled editor who respects writers.
    I hope you'll come visit me over at --any time. : )

  2. Well, I'm the first to admit I need an editor. I need them for grammar, punctuation and to point out where I forgot the POV or used the same word 50 million times, (just did that) wow, never so tired of the word "now" in my life. Next time I'll check that little baby before I send it in.

    Editing is "almost" fun, but not quite. What keeps it from being fun is all our own mistakes that we wish we had seen before.

    And I've had editors in the past, some time ago that I really did not agree with, but I did learn from them some. I am never probably going to be the kind of writer that doesn't need an editor. I will always need one, but that's okay too. If I didn't need an editor they woudln't have a job.

    It can be a very positive thing though. Very positive. Just went through round one with Love Rules and survived it well. I do enjoy seeing what someone else sees though. And I do enjoy seeing that when I correct something, the story is better.

    Yet, I agree you have to stand up for your storyline sometimes and important things to the story. Sometimes it is only a matter of explanation though, so you breeze right through that.

    When I'm edited I think, Okay, nothing else matters but getting this done and I sink myself back into the book I just wrote and try to make as many improvements as the editor suggests. They are so good at catching things like, "She can't see her own eyes." Oh yeah, forgot. And other things like, "She's thinking and it's his POV". Yep, need an editor.

    Thankfully, I think we all get better as time goes on, though.

    Love and blessings
    Rita (interesting blog)

  3. EXCELLENT! Thank you for 'getting' it, Stephanie. 'Most' of us are not here to terrorize authors because many editors ARE authors and know what it's like on the pokey end of the stick. I hear all sides of this and I'm glad that, as an author, you are happy for a good editor.


  4. I just blogged about this as well, Stephanie. Here's my link if you want to take a look:

    Great post, btw! I am one of those authors who was asked to "change" my story. These changes will affect book 2 and 3 drastically and I'll have to go through book 2 with a fine-tooth comb to make sure I implement all the changes. HOWEVER, those changes were for the better and I "think" those changes strengthened my plot. I'm still waiting to hear from my editor, but I'm eager to hear her thoughts. I think sometimes those "changes" editors are asking to be made ARE for the betterment of the storyline. They're not made to just terrorize us authors for sheer entertainment. =D


  5. I need an editor. Hoo-boy do I need an editor. I've gotten better at avoiding some mistakes, but others are apparently etched into my brain.

    Thing is, the biggest reason I need an editor has nothing to do with grammar or spelling or the mechanics of writing. It has to do with a fundamental rality of storytelling; it's all there in my head, and I forget that it's not all there in my reader's head. I need an editor to remind me that not everyone knows what makes a Golem go, or what color eyes my MC has. I need them to tell me what people read when I write what I write.

    Of course, there have been times when what people read was way cooler than what I originally meant. That entails rewriting all kinds of stuff in the books beyond, but you gotta obey the Rule of Cool, right? :-)

  6. Anyone who doesn't see the value of a good editor is probably not quite ready to be a professional author. I'll admit to being one of those who fought tooth and nail against change when starting out -- but now, I look at edits and rewrites as the frosting on top. They are what makes the story tasty. :)

  7. I too have worked with some great editors from time to time, and I'm also thankful for their second set of eyes, because as much as we edit our own work there is always the occasion to miss something. Thank you for this very fine article, and to all the editors who have worked so hard to whip my manuscripts into delightful novels.

  8. I'm in the process of editing now and it's my first time. You could not have said it better. It's great to know that we're all in this together.

    Thanks for a great post. Congrats on all your accomplishments.

  9. Thank you guys for the support and understanding where I'm coming from. Sorry I'm getting back to you late. I've been...what else...editing. LOL!