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My Job as Editor–What It Is and What It Isn’t

My son has written recently about the fact that writing, storytelling is a privilege. I spent the better part of this past weekend editing, which reminded me that being involved in the storytelling process as an editor is also a privilege –– a very special one.

The writer has a story to tell and a particular vision of how he or she wants to tell that story. I don’t believe I have the right to change it, only to help ensure the story is complete and thorough, and the best the author can make it. I don’t believe I have the right to try to change an author’s authentic voice, only to help it develop and grow truer. My job isn’t to make a story something it was never meant to be; my job is to help the writer make it everything he or she wants it to be.

One of the challenges for new writers can be to ensure that everything the reader needs to know makes the journey from their conscious or subconscious mind to the page. My job isn’t to try to construct what’s missing; my job is identify the gaps, and work with the author until the holes are filled.

Another challenge is to ensure that a character’s actions and development make sense based on everything that has come before. My job isn’t to decide who the characters should be; my job is to point out anomalies and help the writer figure out what’s missing or what needs to change.

And ultimately my job is to never see my role as more or less than what it is, while always –– always –– recognizing that respect and trust is the foundation of the writer-editor relationship.

Editing is vital to the writing process. It helps a writer hone his or her story, and that should never be underestimated. It can take long hours, even be frustrating at times, but it is incredibly rewarding. And can truly make a difference.