Receiving our editor’s notes is an interesting experience for me. I want to preface this discussion by saying how wonderful our editor is, and how much I appreciate the work he is putting in with our manuscript. It certainly would be a different book without him, and we are much the better for his counsel.
With that said…it’s always interesting to have someone else going through your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb. We’ve been through this before with our beta readers (at some point, I will write about them as well) but in that circumstance, their suggestions are much more open to our interpretation, our yay or nay. A beta reader is someone you trust, someone whose opinion you respect very highly, but still someone you can turn down.
An editor, on the other hand, is essentially the boss. Sure, you’re the writer, the creator…but they’re the publisher, the one who is going to see your precious words spread far and wide. In our case, the editor is the professional, while we are the novices new to our trade. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, our editor’s suggestions carry far more weight with me.
This does not make it easy.
The most recent notes I received were line-by-line edits. Some of these were very specific, even word-choice suggestions. Many of them caused a rueful smile, as I realized how ridiculous my choices seemed, when presented with a superior option. Some garnered an indifferent shrug. But some…some of those suggestions were very hard for me to digest.
It wasn’t because they were drastic. In most cases, it was a single word. In all sincerity, I sat at my computer screen wrestling with a single word for more than twenty minutes. Word choice is such a precarious element. A single word can entirely twist the meaning of a sentence, a chapter, a novel.
This is WHY authors need editors. We get so attached to our words that it’s like forsaking a child to give them up. Yet all too often, it’s the words we love best that hold our books back from their full potential. Those words we love the most are sometimes the ones that simply have to go. An editor loves the book, and has the clarity to see what it will take to get the manuscript to the next step. Editors save writers from themselves.
I see the necessity. It’s still a hard stage for me. I am prone to arguing (inside my head, for the most part), but my better sense wins out, thank goodness. My efforts are all for you readers, in hopes that we will deliver you a story that you will love.