Wednesday, 8 September 2010

An ode to Editors

This is a photo of me with Ari Lewin, my editor from Disney-Hyperion, who, alas, is my editor no more!
I cannot emphasise enough how important she's been to me and take this opportunity to explain just what the best editors (like Ari), actually do.
Firstly, they spot the story amongst the pages and pages of aimless drivel we writers churn out. They see where the magic is amongst the malformed chapters, insane (and inane) plot devices, cliches and cardboard characters that inhabit first drafts (or in my case, all the way into drafts four and five). Plus they have the patience to read drafts four and five with a freshness I find amazing, especially when I can't bear to look at the manuscript myself by then.
In short, editors are the ones who transform a pile of pages with black ink on them into a real book, something with life, passion and heart.
But they are also tyrants.
Elegant turn of phrase you've spent hours tailoring? If it doesn't help the story, they'll slice it out.
Deadlines looming? Well they've spent all their weekends trying to fix your story so you'd better spend your nights doing the same.
Characters behaving out of character? Number One sin. They can spot a plot device from the other building. You will not get away with it. You can almost hear the whip cracking across the phone.
So, goodbye Ari and thank you for everything. It's no small truth that I owe my career to you.
Next week I'll blog about my other editor and career-saver, Lindsey at Puffin, who has also decided to leave after having edited Dark Goddess.
What?!? Both my editors quitting? Was it something I said?


kathryn evans said...

What have you done to them!? Ah Sarwat, I want one. I want an editor almost more than I want a published book in my hand.

N. R. Williams said...

I have just found an editor. So I am new to this but am also looking forward to answering my own mysterious questions about what they actually do.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Thomas Taylor said...

That's the thing with editors. They just don't keep still.