Universal Editing

I read a blog today by a woman who just had her work edited. She was discouraged, felt like she was a horrible writer, and questioned whether to continue writing or not. This woman has a fantastic blog that I absolutely love reading, here on wordpress, called Intergalactic Writing Inc. This is a drawback of the internet because I wish I could reach out and give her a hug. What she experienced is not what editing is about.

She said she assumed some parts were good because there were no comments. There were only comments where things were ‘bad’. Oh, my blood pressure is rising. It is equally important to have the things that work (‘good’) pointed out, too. A good editor comments on what works, and explains why. We writers learn as much from those comments as we do from having problems pointed out. Second, an edit should never focus on negatives. Even when something doesn’t work, it doesn’t deserve negatives, it deserves suggestions, support, and work between the editor and the writer.

I always say a good edit leaves a writer enthusiastic and excited to jump back in and work. If I’ve been edited and the result leaves me discouraged or feeling like a failure as a writer, I feel that’s actually a failure of the partnership between the editor and the writer. Nothing infuriates me more than seeing a writer give up because of a negative edit. Especially when, more than likely, the negative edit is the opinion of only one person.

Edits should be respectful, positive, educational, and productive. They should not kill the love of words, the love of the writing craft, or the spirit of the writer. I’ve had my work edited by professional editors, where I paid a lot and writing friends where I paid nothing. Each and every one has taught me something. I guess I’m lucky I didn’t end up with an editor like this person did. If so, I’m not sure I’d be where I am on my writing path.

Okay, I’ll climb down from the box now before this turns into a rant. The point is well taken I’m sure. So what kind of editing results have you had? Have you been left raw and bleeding or uplifted and excited to be a writer?

4 thoughts on “Universal Editing

  1. Well there is another good point why you should get your editing business on its way!!! Because you are a really good editor! You do point out the positive and what you like and what makes really good sense in a situation and then you give suggestions for things you feel dont work out.
    So get it going…
    If people know you and how you edit, they want to come back! I know it! 😉


  2. I totally agree with Jenni! The edits you’ve done on my work were really so inspiring. I’ve learned a lot from them. As a beginner in fiction-writing, it is so easy to discourage me and to tell me I’m no good. But like everybody else, I’d like to know my strengths, where I can improve my writing…and you have done all these things to me. You are really a good editor, Lisa!!!


  3. Great post. I agree. Editing should also point out the positives. Writers are already fragile souls riddled with self-doubt (Virginia Woolf, Hemingway, me, and so on) and so someone like you is a plus in the editing world.


  4. Thanks for the kind comments. Row, you are so right about our fragile little writing souls. Mine frequently gets squished under my inner critic which is a three hundred pound monster sitting on my shoulder who speaks very loudly. It’s hard to muffle the inner critic and only take what is productive and ignore the rest.


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