Updated: Apr 11, 2021
I've been asked a few questions about what it's like working with an editor, what they do, and the value they bring. Here is a quick run down of my experience.
Why do you need an editor?
Everyone needs an editor, even the pros. (Maybe even especially the pros). Even editors who write use other editors rather than do it themselves.
It's not just about correcting spelling or suggesting line changes. Developmental Editors are a second pair of eyes to spot weaknesses in the text and point out the author's blindspots. And, because they are trained in different types of fiction and non-fiction, they are carefully honed on the industry edge to provide guidance on how your style of writing suits the market you're aiming for. Line or copy editors change up the style of sentences to help them flow better, and proofreaders make sure everything is spelled and punctuated correctly. I'm talking about my developmental edit in this piece.
What did you get out of working with your developmental editor?
A lot! Some of which I expected, and some of which I didn't.
I'm a mature enough human being to recognise that while I think I British Fantasy Award-winning prose is flying from my fingers, it needs a second opinion. Moreover, I wanted a second opinion from someone with insight into the industry. Having them say, "Mm. Not bad," would have been great encouragement. The fact that she got all excited about it blew me away.
By talking to an editor with experience in the YA fantasy market, I got some professional validation that what I bring to the table fits and sits in that genre. Is that important to everyone? Maybe not. But it was important to me, and a key reason why I sought out working with a developmental editor.
Why a dev editor?
They provide feedback on the key and core story elements. Does this hang together as a good yarn and take the reader on a satisfying journey?
As well, the editor will look at and analyse your writing itself. I found out my weaknesses are in not grounding the dialogue enough in the setting – resulting in talking heads in whitespace. However, I also learned my strengths; that my characters are fantastic, well-rounded and enjoyable to be around; and my worldbuilding is ::chef's kiss::
Did I know that already? Well, I kind of hoped so. But as a writer, just as we can be blind to our faults, we worry that what we think are our strengths are sub-par as well. Kind of a double-edged sword, that.
What will you do with the knowledge you've gained?
First, crack open a celebratory beer. Then, once my head has returned to normal after being puffed out of proportion, get to work. What I've put together for you is good, and that's from an editor's viewpoint. With that behind me as a strong wind, I'm more than happy to unfurl the sails and crack on.
Have you worked with a developmental editor? What were your experiences?