One big tip for knowing how you’ve gotten a good editor

Editing is essential. As writers, we all need some type of editing. Even me, who is trained in editing, is not the best editor for my own work. There are mistakes that our brains cannot find in our stories, our children. So, editors become our biggest helpers.

What’s great is that some editors will give you a free trial. If it’s a novel, they’ll edit a couple of pages for free. Some will edit a couple of poems for free. It’s not much, but it does give you a sense of their editing style.

There is one big thing to look out for though: positive feedback.

When I was in college, my first creative writing teacher would make us say at least one thing that the story did well. It could be a line we liked or part of the dialogue. But we couldn’t repeat what someone else had said.

She mentioned how it’s not good to only know how you messed up. But it’s also important to know what you’re doing great at. What works for you? What shines in your writing? What are you talented at? Because if you’re not told those parts, how would you know?

I had another class later on where the teacher never mentioned positive feedback at all. But after I spoke up about it, it became a daily task. The other writers loved it.

We write in a world that criticizes us to the bone. It’s essential for your editor to know when to critique and when to praise. It makes the whole process a lot smoother.

Any thoughts about this? Or personal stories? Leave a comment below!

8 thoughts on “One big tip for knowing how you’ve gotten a good editor

  1. I always tell my clients three things: they did a good job and made it further than many others (even the worst completed manuscript is a completed one), what I liked about their work, and what doesn’t quite work and how we can make it work. If editors only focus on the positive, they are not doing their job. If they only focus on the negative, they are not doing their job. A good editor builds their client up, rips them apart, and helps take all those pieces and put them back together so that the author is a better writer for the next one. The problem is finding a good editor that works for you, as a writer. I have seen many writers who cling to the “I’m the writer and know best” mantra. They don’t handle editing well and need a “that’s perfect but add a comma here” type of editor. I have seen many who cling to the “I am a horrible writer and this is the worst manuscript you’ve ever seen” mantra and need a supporter who can boost morale while pointing out the negatives. I have seen many writers who cling to the “My friends/family all think it’s great” mantra and need a smooth-talking editor who has mastered reverse psychology type of editor.

    Personally, I want an editor to point out what I cannot see. Although I must admit I still self edit because I charge much less than many other editors and can’t justify spending more than two clients on my own edits lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I 100% agree. An editor doesn’t need to just focus on only the positives or the negatives, but a mixture of everything. Tell the whole story about what’s going on.

      I’ve seen all of those types of writers before. I think it’s more about the writer being open to options (even if it’s hard) while the editor finds what the writer needs to improve on and keep going. Both open and working together.

      And I get that. I still self edit some days as well. Money is sometimes hard to come by, so I can’t justify paying an editor when I also need to pay for bills still.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree.

    I need positive feedback. To be sure, I am a fragile writer. That doesn’t mean I can’t handle any critiquing of my work; it just means that I also need pats on the back to keep me going, or I’ll fall into a pit of writer’s despair. Balance is key.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had an editor once point out only the bad parts, and even sound like she was mocking a word choice – mellifluous – because it was a hard word for na. Aside from that, she did a good job. But I do prefer when the good parts are mentioned too. When I help a friend – by proofreading – I point out the mistakes on the manuscript, but I send a separate file mentioning what I liked the most, like an overall feeling or pointing out specific things – the comic relief, the romance, the friendship between so and so…

    Liked by 1 person

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