Squeezing the best possible version of the story out of the universe…

Alexandra Zayas interviewed by Chip Scanlan about editing:

Editing isn’t about fixing the copy in front of you, it’s about squeezing the best possible version of the story out of the universe by helping the writer to see it and capture it. What that help looks like will vary between individuals and fluctuate for the same writer at different points in the process. A big part of the job is removing obstacles, especially those that are self-imposed. One writer may need help seeing the forest for the caveats. Another may need reminders to get inside subjects’ shoes and hearts. Editing is knowing when to stay out of their hair and when to give them a nudge, when to insist they keep pushing for the impossible and when to let them cut bait. It’s making sure they feel comfortable arguing with you and recognizing when they’re right — but also recognizing when, amid a nasty bout of 11th-hour second-guessing, the writer is just tired and hangry; then, you send them a sandwich. You can’t do this job without legitimately loving these people and living for their victories and growth.

I’ve been thinking a lot about finding an editor: we bloggers have, to our detriment, steadfastly held onto disintermediation as a inviolable tenet; my writing can be better, and involving an editor is one way to get there.


Oliver's picture
Oliver on May 25, 2022 - 15:34 Permalink

That’s what good editing can be. But what’s good for the writing, good for the reader and good for the writer need not coincide. Not every good editor is good for everybody and everything every time. Yet, as the saying goes, everybody needs an editor.