The Writer-Editor Project II

DSC02458The Writer-Editor Project II

I posted my first come-on for The Writer-Editor Project on January 19, for writers. You can see it here. If you are a writer and would like to comment about your writer-editor experiences, you still have time.

The editors get their turn

Now, I have a couple of questions for editors.

I’ll reiterate – I would like some discussion, so feel free to respond (kindly please) to others’ comments.

Keep in mind, if you respond, you may be quoted. If you want to complain about a certain writer, please do not mention her/him by name.

Editor questions

These questions are for editors.

  1. What’s the harshest response you have ever received from a writer about your edit?
  2. What’s the best thing a writer ever told you about your edit?


Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Special Events

25 responses to “The Writer-Editor Project II

  1. I am certainly not a professional editor, but did read most of what my children wrote for classes in high school and college. I was just recently telling my daughter how much her writing has improved and how well she articulates the standards for blog submissions for her corporate website. Her response? “I didn’t know you thought I was that bad before.”

    • karenrsanderson

      I love this comment, Esther! Why? Mostly, because it reminds me of the relationship I had with my Mom, now gone about 10 years. She was always a critical “English Teacher” type, correcting my spoken grammar especially. How I wish that she was here to read my serious writing! I’m sure she’d have a few things to say. And I would welcome her comments.

  2. One writer hit me out of the blue with “We both know this relationship is not working”. I was not expecting that. It did inspire me to examine my methods and has made me a better editor.

    The most consistent positive comment concerns attention to detail. I have learned not to rush.

    • karenrsanderson

      Wendy – did the writer explain why the relationship was not working? Thanks for commenting both negative and positive comments.

      • Karen, the author said there were errors which another edit caught that she felt I should not have missed. I asked for particulars and discovered that most were in dialog. The corrections were not consistent with the character.

        • karenrsanderson

          Interesting. Character voices are important – if they are not consistent, it makes it feel odd. Or, when all the characters speak exactly the same (like all the words in dialog are coming out of the same mouth, the writer’s).

  3. 1.) Luckily, I only received a couple of harsh/irrational responses to editing suggestions from contributors to our online journal. That handful? Unpublished newbies who thought they were Hemingway and not one word or a single punctuation could/should be touched.

    2.) “You made my work live and sing.”

    • karenrsanderson

      Angie – I have found that writers who have never had a serious edit are often like that – The Hemingway Complex. What a lovely positive comment!

  4. Editing has only been a small part of my work, so I never had any awful reactions. I did have one that made me smile though…one client said his parents thought it was hilarious I was willing to criticize his writing. I don’t think he was as amused…

    The best response? “Awesome job! You were on-point with keeping 95% of my content intention.”

    • karenrsanderson

      Like the Hemingway Complex, there is that pesky Parents Love It Complex. Or another of my favorites, i.e., my English-teacher aunt loved it.
      Thank you for commenting.

  5. I have edited medical books, as well as books of fiction and non-fiction. They’re all difficult for different reasons. The medical editing was less emotional – just followed medical ‘procedures,’ so to speak, on editing technique. But boring as all heck. Editing fiction is much more interesting, but difficult because, as a fiction writer myself, I know how much it hurts to see paragraphs deleted, words changed, or whole sections noted as being ‘awkward’ or ‘repetitious.’ On the other hand, novelists are so appreciative of the arduous editing work, and I’m lucky that I’ve only received ‘thank yous’ and ‘you made my book better.’ PHEW, I think, every time.
    Lastly, editing someone else’s work makes ME a better writer!

    • karenrsanderson

      Great response, Pam. I prefer fiction, but I have done a few non-fiction that were really interesting (and I learned from the reading). I agree on the ‘editing makes me a better writer.’ I have learned more about myself and my own bad writing habits through each editing job.

  6. Lucky me I never received harsh responses. Though, when I worked for Rose & Thorn as an editor, early on in my “career’ there, a writer would not make one single change I suggested, other than a couple of grammatical nits – she was insulted. That was ONE in the many many writers I edited through the years. And perhaps I was wrong, it was early in my editing career. Still. She’s stuck in my mind all these years later.

    The best things are when a writer tells me how my help allowed them to create a better manuscript/story – and they’d be so appreciative – all but that one have been that way. I’ve been lucky, yes.

    • karenrsanderson

      Kat – I’ve had that “insulted” comment myself. I just think, “Oh well, good luck getting this sold.” I have to stick to many of my own opinions, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing the best job I can. I love it when a writer comes back and indicates they now have a better MS or story because of my editing suggestions – sure feels good.

  7. I have never had any really bad responses – though I find that editing en familia does not always promote domestic harmony. Probably the best response I’ve gotten was from someone who said I made them a better writer. It is an editor’s job, after all. 🙂

    • karenrsanderson

      Well, you are my editor, and you have made me a better writer! I thank God that we met and that you agreed to take me on! I like it when clients tell me that I pointed out their “bad habits.” Many don’t recognize the bad habits until they are pointed out. And then, many times, I realize, “Oh crap, I do the same thing!”

  8. Karen, I have really enjoyed the comments on this blog and on the one for writers. It is always interesting to me to get a glimpse of the inner workings of any profession. Thanks for posing these questions.

    • karenrsanderson

      Thanks for commenting, Esther. Often, it’s not much fun being an editor! I have to say, “Your writing sucks,” in an inventive and kind way. That is often a challenge. Though I do want to know – from both sides of the fence – what the writer/editor relationship has done for writers and other editors.

      • The “Your writing sucks” parts of the job are the roughest for me. Even just telling someone we are not a good match is painful. Necessary, but painful.

        • karenrsanderson

          Wendy – yes, they are tough, but sometimes I just gotta say, “Learn to punctuate a sentence.” Therese Pope and I were discussing “firing a client” the other day. I’ve done that a few times. I hate to turn away the money, but some writers truly need to go back to the drawing board. Or High School English!

  9. The only real editing I’ve done is helping my kids with their papers in school. So I don’t have any real experience to speak of there.
    But, I certainly have enjoyed the ‘insiders’ peek into types of comments writers give editors.
    The Hemingway Complex made me laugh, though I haven’t been brave enough to submit a piece of my own yet so my laughter may turn to tears one day! 🙂
    Once again, great series you are doing!

    • karenrsanderson

      Thanks, Denise. I think it is helpful from both standpoints, don’t you? I’ve been on your wonderful blog, and I do not see a lot of tears (for your writing anyway) in your future, only success.

      • 🙂 Yes, both standpoints are very interesting to read about. It’s easy to get caught up in our own perspectives, so thank you for this series! And thanks, too, for your awesome encouragement! You have such a great knack for lifting people up!

  10. Pingback: The Writer-Editor Project III | Karen R. Sanderson's Blog

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