Saying ‘no’.

I went to my writers’ group meeting the other day, which was a delightful experience as always. We were talking about editing and feedback, and one group member said that she sometimes found the editing process hard, because editors often made changes to parts of the writing that she really loved.

And I said, “But a good editor should be someone you can say ‘no’ to.”

One of the wonderful things about the relationship between the editor and the writer is that it’s a power-sharing partnership. The writer supplies the writing, and the editor supplies the perspective. There’s dialogue. It’s a joint effort to tailor the work into something better.

Of course, there are times when it is difficult. Sometimes, writers fall in love with parts of their work, and they can’t bear the idea of having to change them. Sometimes, editors don’t phrase their feedback well, and it causes offence.

But it should always, always be a dialogue, and one in which both parties can be honest with each other. While coming at the project from different directions, both writer and editor have the same goal in mind–to produce something amazing. This is why it’s so important to take one’s time in entering into an editing relationship. For most manuscripts, the process takes several weeks, if not months. So you need to be able to get along with each other! That means being able to say ‘no’, or ‘yes’, or ‘please can we talk about this more?’ whenever it’s needed. And at the end, hopefully it’s not just a great manuscript you’ve produced, it’s also been a truly enjoyable experience, on both sides.


Write on!



About Rebecca Freeman

I'm an editor of fiction and non-fiction. I also write stories of my own, because then I can steal all the best bits of the work I edit. Uh... I mean, I find reading and editing other people's work really inspiring and interesting. Really, though. Being able to work with an author to help their work shine is such a privilege and a really fun experience. I'm so happy I get to do it. When not editing, I like to run, write, grub about in the dirt, and drink tea.
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