Monday, April 5, 2010

Is it Easier to Edit Yourself or Other People?

I recently made a decision that pours two years of work down the drain. Last month I decided to re-write Quads, the first book in my series, in the first person. I did this reluctantly. It created a lot of extra work. But my main character’s voice sounds so much more natural that I think it’s worth it.

The decision to re-write Quads was also tough emotionally. I am very attached to what I wrote and some of it is going to be cut completely. Every day I wish I had an editor who could have helped me make this decision two years ago. I really needed someone back then.

Ironically, I am an editor. I’m a journalist. I edit and report for a newsletter that covers commercial real estate. That means that I spend my day closely reading stories while striving for succinct and absolutely accurate word choice. I also work with another editor who can magically fix a problem I’m having with a sentence with a stroke of his pen.

These experiences made me wonder: is it easier to edit my own work, or someone else’s? To me it’s easier to edit someone else because I can be objective about the work and I have lots of experiences as a journalist to bring to the writer. But being a good editor isn’t about changing the style and tone. At a recent Young Adult event I attended in New York, one of the authors (Gayle Korman) said that her editor gives her the key to unlock the problems in her manuscript but doesn’t solve them for her.

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