29 Oct Find your voice with a good editor
By Natasha Ndlebe
As a writer, receiving a document riddled with red markings and comments from your editor can be disheartening. The late David Carr, a columnist and reporter at the New York Times, explained that, “A good editor is the enemy of clichés and tropes, but not the overburdened writer who occasionally resorts to them. Judgment, a good bedside manner and an ability to conjure occasional magic in the space between writer and editor is rare, but can produce treasure.”
A good editor is indeed rare but, once found, should be treasured. Clarity Editorial is passionate about championing good editors – people who understand your writing, check that your tone will not land you in hot water, organise your work and hone your argument to flow clearly and logically.
A love-hate relationship
As Jeff Goins has written, as a writer you may have a blind spot and be unable to notice some weak points in your own writing. Your editor’s perspective will help you strengthen your writing. Finding the balance between respecting the author’s voice and editing for clarity can be tricky, but a good editor will avoid imposing their own ideas onto your writing. The editor queries inconsistencies while respecting your style and voice.
A trusting relationship between you, the writer, and your editor is vital. Respect, empathy and effective communication helps to build a collaborative relationship. You should consider the editing process a learning experience, one that allows you to understand your writing style while finding your voice.
Empowering the writer
Perfect writing doesn’t exist but the art of exceptional writing can be learnt – with the help of a good editor. The editor’s job is not just to fix structure, style or content, but also to empower you. They will help you clarify your ideas by highlighting what works and questioning what doesn’t, providing the support that can encourage your growth as a writer. With an editor, you don’t have to obsess over perfect grammar and second-guess yourself as you write. Understand the editor’s queries or changes before accepting or declining them. The editor’s suggestions may improve the structure of your argument, find the perfect word or standardise your formatting, which can be useful. Sometimes though, the suggestions may change your meaning, tone or voice, so pay close attention to their edits!
A good editor should step into your shoes to understand your thought process while keeping in mind the reader and their possible questions. The editor doesn’t absolve you of responsibility towards your readers, but they act as a bridge.
Caring for the reader
It’s important to remember that your reader should be informed, provoked or otherwise engaged by what they read. Your editor will push you to provide a flowing, clear, logical piece of writing that eloquently describes your thoughts, making it easy to understand your objective and main points.
By working with a good editor, your writing can be honed into its most effective and expressive form, while retaining your individual style.