The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Everyone needs an editor

The first time I was asked to volunteer my time to help edit a friend’s book, I did not know there was any other type of editor than a content editor. When I started talking about substance, style, and getting to the point, I learned that some people understood editing to be the same thing as proof reading.  It was all a big misunderstanding.

The second time I read a friend’s book manuscript was the best.  I recommended that he burn the manuscript and start over again from scratch, and he did it as I suggested. He later thanked me for it.

The third time I was asked to read a book manuscript, I told the story of my prior experience doing that for my second friend with a book, and the third friend’s request was withdrawn. Since then word has spread.

At minimum an author needs a continuity checker. For me reading a book is like a guided meditation, especially when the book is a work of fiction.  The experience of reading a story requires it to be plausible on some level.  Impossible worlds are the meat of science fiction and fantasy, but those types of stories must still be believable.

The thing that will ruin a story quickly for me is a series of glaring unresolved inconsistencies.  Sometimes the best way to uncover these types of problems is for a second set of eyes to become involved in the process.  This is the minimum level of editing that every author should seek.

A good editor functions as a writing coach, and can bring the best out of an author.  It is a rare skill and it’s in high demand.  Yet a friend who will tell an author of easily corrected blunders in a manuscript before it goes to print is a real friend.

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Written by Tom Fox

08/25/2010 at 1:47 pm

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