3 Ways to Work Well with an Editor

ACFW Advice, Editors, Friends of ACFW, tips, writing 3 Comments

By Kariss Lynch

They say that all good things must come to an end. Sadly, the same holds true in writing. As you turn your manuscript into your editor, you abdicate your position as ruler of your own fictional kingdom in favor of an advisor who tells you all the wonderful things you did wrong and how you can fix them. (For example, my editor would have asked me who “they” is in that opening line.)

But this “bad” thing doesn’t actually have to be bad. In fact, think of it as iron sharpening iron. Who knows your story and characters better than you? And who better to help you improve than an unbiased person who likes to read and knows a whole lot about writing and how to craft a story?

Truth be told, I hate editing for the same reason I hate stepping on the scale to check my weight. It’s revealing and uncomfortable. But not until I acknowledge that pesky number on the scale can I formulate a plan to improve and grow more into my best self. The same is true with editing. As you prepare your book for the editing process, here are some ways to prepare yourself, as well.

  1. Check your pride at the door.

First of all, realize your editor is there to HELP you, not hurt you. Don’t take it personally. I thought I understood that, but I didn’t really grasp it until I received my first round of notes on my first book. Then my pride took a nose dive and shattered in a very ugly pile around my feet. This process is meant to refine both you and your story. It takes someone looking at my book from the outside to show me where the issues are and help me change them.

  1. Kill your darlings.

It is challenging to dig into your story, delete scenes, and create new ones where you originally imagined something different. There were times my editor suggested a line of copy or dialogue that made me cringe, not because she wasn’t right, but because it wasn’t in the exact voice my character would have said it. Here’s where camaraderie came into effect. She could see the holes. I could keep the story true. We made a great team. Sometimes improving your plot means cutting characters or scenes you love.

  1. Fight for your story.

NO ONE knows your story or characters better than you. But discernment is important. At the beginning of the editing process, my editor asked me to cut several characters from my first book. No matter how much I played with this request, something didn’t sit right. So, I fought for these characters, explained the role they would play in future books, and stood my ground. I knew keeping them would benefit the story. Once I explained their importance (and not just my emotional attachment), my editor listened and immediately replied with ways I could make these characters even stronger.

It turns out that the characters I fought to keep have been some of the favorites for readers. If you know in your gut something needs to stay, fight for it. Just make sure to check your emotional attachment at the door and identify exactly why this piece adds to the story.

We often write our stories in isolation. Editing brings them into the light. I’m so thankful God created us to collaborate with one another. He knew life is better together, and so is writing. Thank your editor or your writing team today. They are God’s gift for you and your story. Happy writing (and editing)!

We often write our stories in isolation. Editing brings them into the light. God knew life is better together, and so is writing. @Kariss_Lynch #ACFWBlogs #writingtips #amwriting #amediting Click To Tweet

Kariss Lynch is the author of the Heart of a Warrior series and loves to write about characters with big dreams, adventurous hearts, and enduring hope. In her free time, she spends time with loved ones, travels, and tries not to plot five books at once. Connect with her at karisslynch.com.



Comments 3

  1. When I heard author-friends’ editing stories
    and of their opus’ dreadful fates,
    I thought editors should be confined to the glories
    of acting as human paper-weights.
    But then I met one who seemed decent,
    and who actually knew how to read.
    His curriculum vitae was recent,
    so I thought, “Let my manuscript bleed.”
    He seemed at first like a surgeon,
    but then assumed a piratical air
    and my book was metaphorical sturgeon,
    plucked from the deep by a bear.
    When I brought my mates this tale of woe:
    “Man up, you fool, this is how we grow!”

  2. If anyone’s remotely interesed, the above bit of doggerel puts me over 50,000 words of Shakespearean sonnets written since January the First.

    This shows either a kind of wayward brilliance, or a vast store of time which might have been put to better use.

    And perhaps it shows that a bit of effort allows one to do ANYTHING, even something that is, well, kinda stupid.

    But what the heck; it’s been fun.

  3. WOW! that’s amazing, Andrew! Both the comment and that you’ve written over 50,000 words of Shakespearean sonnets this year. Love the rhythm of your words.

    And Kariss, great tips on working with an editor. For the most part, I haven’t met an edit that I didn’t eventually embrace. 🙂

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