Are you thinking the title of this post should be an affront to my sensibilities and I should be itching to edit my own words? Okay, you got me. The title is, on a bone-deep level, annoying. There is a distinct urge to change the words, tweak them, so they conform to the rules. “I Don’t Need a Malodorous Editor” (None of us do. If you’re in the same room and they smell horrible, run away.) “I am Not in Need of an Editor” (To the point, dry, boring and with nothing about ‘stinkin’,’ which is half the point.) “No Stinking Editor Needed Here” (So we’re back to the lack of bathing again…)
Really? I’ll leave it as it is. It fits with what I want to say. It’s poor English but, hell, it gets my point across. And anyone with a passing knowledge of Mel Brookes movies will recognize the reference. “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges.” Interpretation? We don’t need the authority. We’ll do whatever the hell we want anyway.
It sounds better the way it was said, yes? Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, it instantly gives you a mental image of the speaker, the situation and what’s about to happen. That’s what words should do and what authors are trying to do when they write—transport you somewhere else. They try to achieve that through the crafty use of words, the development and exploitation of their literary strengths. In short, through their “voice”. And I know of several authors who are adamant they won’t be edited, because editors want to change their words, mute their voices.
If you’re an author and you’re afraid of being edited, this post is for you. Listen carefully…
An editor’s contribution to your book should never change your voice.
There. I said it.
Mind you, I’m a freelancer. My job is very different from that of an acquiring editor at a publishing house. Yet, even there, most editors will make suggestions as to scene, character and plot, but leave the execution up to you. For freelancers the job is even less intrusive. We’re hired to polish and improve the readability of a book. This does not include stripping it of its life and flavor! Yes, there are rules of grammar and syntax we’re taught to adhere to, but editing fiction and editing a thesis are two completely different things. In literature sometimes you have to break the rules to make it work!
It’s as though you’re driving down a four-lane highway, with “No U-Turn” signs the entire way along. That’s the rule. You can get your butt in trouble if you break it. Yet, if there’s an accident on the highway and it’s closed off, what are you going to have to do? Make that freakin’ U-turn and go back from whence you came.
A good editor will recognize where you’re trying to make a point by straying from the rule book and, even if they point out the deviation, accept that it’s done deliberately. Just bear in mind, if they tell you it’s absolutely saying something other than you wanted it to, then you may need to rethink, but that, again, goes back to readability and has nothing to do with muting your voice.
Now, repeat after me, “Editor is my friend. We need the stinkin’ editor.”
My main focus is on grammar and line editing but my rates also include low-level content editing, where I make note of any questions regarding continuity, pacing and story line. These services are built into the charge since I know, from experience, I can’t see problems in those areas without making mention of them.
Whether just starting out or an experienced author, looking to break into a new market or planning to self-publish, Grammar Goggles can help you polish your manuscript and take it to the next level.
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