Monday, March 08, 2010

Monday Writers Craft Online: The Editor: Foe or Friend?

When you write a piece, do you ask someone to edit it for you or not? For me it depends on what I'm doing. These blog posts are written in a few minutes and posted as-is. It's a blog, so I'm not very particular about grammar, style, etc. (Yes, feel free to make rude comments!)

However, when I write for a publication, my work is always subbed/edited. Some writers really object to having their work edited; I think it's an excellent thing.

OK, if you're unlucky enough to get a bozo going over your work, then they can ruin you.

I remember years ago someone at the NST "improving" my work by adding in split infinitives, subject-verb errors, and other grammar horrors. When the piece was published it sounded like something you'd hear at the wet market. I suggested to the editor back then that she take a look at the "improvements" before letting them through. As it turned out, she'd already seen the piece, checked whose errors they were, and removed that sub.

For the most, however, I find that editors improve my work. When I write something, I tend to become blind to errors and glitches. Editors can cast a fresh eye on work and then pick up errors or smooth out style problems.

Eric Forbes of MPH picked out over a dozen grammar errors in the Logomania manuscript; Howe Leng of Marshall Cavendish did the same with Katz Tales.

Magazine eds like Margaret Sebastian and Tara Barker can swap around a few paras, add in some sub headings and turn an OK article into a winning feature.

If you ask me, I'd say editors are a writer's second-best friend. Cats are of course the writer's best friend - but you knew that, right?

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Neri said...

couldn't agree more - editors are extremely important! i lost count of how many times poorly edited "editorial pieces" made my head spin...

Pam said...

I used to read the weekly news letters from where my hubby was employed. I don't think they had ever seen an editor. I used them as English lessons and let my kids pick out the errors. : )

Naddy said...


Mekkan said...

I wouldn't have written my blog in English, if I mind too much my awful English sentences. I'm happy it's a blog after all. But how I wish I have my "second best friend" to check my English. haha--- I asked one English journalist last Sunday how I can improve my writing in English. He said "Read a lot." Indeed.
Thank you for this topic. I enjoyed.

Cezar and Léia said...

You have such a great talent! You are a fabulous writer!
and...We are your fans!
purrs and love

Carla said...

I could see this being a benefit or a nightmare. Most the 'writers' I know don't trust other people's imput or advise. Wonder if this is fear?

The Chair Speaks said...

Good subs and editors do make your articles read better. There are also some who change/twist the whole plot.
Margaret Sebastian has many, many years of experience, first a sub, then editor and later managing editor.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

In my humble opinion, editors USED to be important. They USED to be highly regarded. Publishers and the Press used to hire the brightest minds to be editors. But since the salary isn't competitive, all we are getting now are people with basic degrees in English who are just dying to have a job, whether or not they are really qualified to be editors. The sharpest brains have all gone to other professions. You do understand, don't you, that I am speaking from a uniquely Malaysian perspective?

NadyaG said...

I'd have to agree with covert ops here...but I do live in hope that change is "a comin" and that todays kids will turn this country around and perhaps we shall have the caliber of editors we could/should have had! Having said that...I am not too fond of my two kitties today. They deserve a spanking for ruining my fav chair!

Cheyenne -Millie said...

We like your writings! Nice to read!

Anya said...

Ellen je word nog eens wereld beroemd, je schrijft geweldig :-)

knuffels van ons allemaal

Christine and FAZ said...

Editors can be tough but essential but not as essential as cats.

Thank you for all your kind wishes recently when I wasn't feeling well, everyone's healing purrs obviously helped to get me better.


Mekkan said...

I just wanted to say "Hello. Hope you're doing fine." I wish you can find time to fill us in with your post. Take care.

Pam said...

Just dropping by to say hi! Hope you are well.

LenoreNeverM♡re said...

all the best Ellen!
I have cat lover friends~