Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An Objective Perspective

Hey everyone, Annette here. This week we're beginning a series on why writers need editors. Join me as we talk about perspective.

Objective Perspective
Net's Notations Tuesdays
Why We Need Editors Series

Editors, who needs them?

Ever read your own work and not seen there’s a word missing until someone else points it out? I have. I hear the dialog clearly in my head. And my mind fills in the word that’s missing, which means I miss that it’s missing, even on a reread. *wink* That’s easy to do with our own work. We need an objective perspective.

As the writer, you know what you’re trying to say and how you mean your scene to play out in people’s minds, but an objective reader may not see the visuals at all how you intended. In our critique group, one of our members is especially animated about trying actions out. She’ll stand up, pose, attempt to enact what she’s reading on the page. This behavior has led to some great laughter and some great catches. “Well, I knew what I meant!” *grin*

Editors catch those places where our work is unclear. They’ll most likely be able to discern what you meant and help you get there. Sometimes it’s just an issue of nuance. “This word implies something you probably didn’t intend; try this word.”

Critique groups will help prepare you for an editor, but there’s no replacement for editors. Whether they work for a house or work freelance, writers need them, even if we self-publish. Editors see what we don’t or can’t, and they have the skills to help us rewrite or rework until we have the product we intended all along. (ideally *smile*)

Even multi-published authors need editors. Raise your hand if when you learned to type, the teacher said to put two spaces after each period, as well as a after a colon… Yup, just what I thought. Most of us were taught that. I’ve read many blog posts, articles, and newsletters written by authors who left two spaces in. An editor will catch and delete those. The new standard is one space and readers expect one space. You’re used to it now, right? It’s pretty jarring when there are two spaces.

What about formatting? Raise your hand if you’ve ever used tabs to place the beginning of paragraphs… Me too, years ago. Then someone taught me the trick of the trade for automatically formatting paragraphs as you go. Wow, what a difference. Or how about page breaks at chapter breaks? Once again, an editor can help with this, especially if we forget. Later this month, we’ll discuss the way editors help with grammar and content. Next month, we'll tackle working with your editors.

So, to answer the question of who needs editors? We do.


  1. What a great post! I'll be following this series for sure. I am very grateful you're in my corner, Annette. :-) You and Nicola are gifted editors and I appreciate you both so much. You make my work with White Rose the very best it can be. I only wish I could escape the thinking that edits mean I've failed, and diminish my confidence. Your post here helps a lot! You stated it so well, that, even after we read, and re-read, and toil over every word - even after we have our trusted critique partners review, there are still going to be edits - subtle shifts, and those nuances you mention, that once polished, make a manuscript so much better. Thank you for sharing that skill and exploring it in the months ahead. :-) God bless!

  2. Thank you, Marianne. It's always a pleasure working with you. And please know I've been on the other side (even editors need editors) and received the list of edits. There's no shame in that. It's all part of the profession. We'll dive deeper into this topic the rest of this month, on Nets Notations Tuesdays. :)

  3. Great article, Annette.

    Marianne, thanks for the kind words. Just remember, receiving edits doesn't mean you've failed. Edits are varnish on a story that's already well-constructed.

  4. So true, Nicola. We can't/don't make a pile of dusty bricks into a building, but we can add touches to a finished and well-constructed building. :)


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