Why Every Writer (Yes, Even You) Needs an Editor
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Never mind. Scratch that. I only mean writers who want to publish their work. If you write for purely personal enjoyment and don’t want or expect your work to be published or even looked at by the masses, please ignore this post. Everyone else—you need an editor! Here’s why:
Your Spelling Errors Are Smarter than You
You can go over your work a hundred times, but you’ll probably miss the same spelling mistake over and over again. Why? Because writers tend to see what they want to see or what they’re supposed to see. Even if you go back to your work after a long break, there’s still a high possibility of completely glossing over your mistakes. You might be looking your typo directly in the face and not realize it is one because you think you’re spelling it correctly.
Your Word Document Won’t Catch the Important Stuff
But hey, guess what? Being a good writer doesn’t mean being a good speller. That’s what an editor’s for. A copyeditor—at least a good one—is better than any other word processor because unlike checking for simple grammar and spelling mistakes, they’re also on the lookout for consistency, clarity, and correctness. They aren’t only looking for errors but moments of awkward or clunky writing, such as run-on sentences, mixed metaphors, repetition and inappropriate word usage.
But, on the other hand, they are careful not to change your unique voice and will treat your use of language with great caution. Well-seasoned editors know help to enhance your distinctive writing style.
An Editor is Straightforward and Objective
No one is as attached to your story like you are. And just like a mother’s love for her bratty, snot-nosed teenager, your passion for your manuscript tends to blind you from glaring issues. Editors look at your work with a professional eye that isn’t blinded by bias. Writers sometimes take this stage of editing too personally. Why? Because you might find out that some things in your story just don’t work.
Structural or substantive editors look at the meat of your writing: the story itself. Characters, story arcs, paragraphs, chapters, point of view, tone…all of that will be looked over with a fine-tooth comb by a professional who may not see the magic and beauty in your manuscript as you were expecting or may discover something magical in places you didn’t even realize. Don’t be disappointed by their criticism. They aren’t going to leave you high and dry. Their feedback is designed to make you a better writer.
So, why not get your friends or family to edit your work? Do you want someone who’s going to be nice or do you want someone who’s going to be honest? While you might initially be shocked by an editor’s constructive criticism (we’re nice people, I swear), you’ll be so thankful to hear honest feedback for a change. And while your family and friends mean well, they aren’t doing you any favours by coddling your writing if it could improve, especially if you want to be a published author one day. And trust me, praise from an objective reader is a lot more meaningful to a writer when it comes from outside the family.
Not Every Writer Needs Every Type of Editor
Did you know that in the publishing industry, there are many levels of editing, all of which require a different set of skills? When we say editor, we’re generally talking about a copy or substantive editor, but we’re also using it as an umbrella term to describe various stages of editing that often require separate editors (although the same person usually does more than one job). If you think you don’t need an editor, what you probably mean is that you haven’t figured out what type of editing you need. To get a more thorough idea of the different kinds of editing, this will help.
Still Not Convinced?
The best way to find out how an editor can help you become a better writer is to work with one! Contact me at Polished Pages today to find out how I can help you improve your writing and turn your manuscript into the best version of itself.