the good, the bad, and the ugly about the writing life

Guest Blogger Diane Piron-Gelman: The Outside Eye–Part 2

glasses on bookThis week, mystery author and freelance editor, Diane Piron-Gelman, has been writing about what editors do and why writers should hire them. In Part 1, Diane explained why Chinese menus can cause her pain.

A good editor is an outside eye on your manuscript. You carry your story in your head. You eat, sleep and breathe your characters and their situation; you know how they think and feel; you know an awful lot about who they are and where they’ve been that never makes it onto the page. Your readers don’t have all that. All they know is what you put into the words they’re reading. Editors don’t have all those extras, either—so we’re more like your reader than you are. Like a director in a play, our job is to let you know whether your intentions are getting across.

Writing and acting both involve creating a temporary reality for an audience and inviting them to step inside it. What differs is the medium. Actors use their faces, bodies and voices on a stage, TV or movie set; writers use words on a page. An editor helps make sure your words do their utmost to create the reality of your story. A writer cannot do this solo, any more than an actor can play Lady Macbeth while simultaneously watching herself do it. Many writers I know can edit their own work just fine up to a point… but they still need the outside eye, to see what they can’t precisely because they’re looking from within.  An editor sees from the opposite side.

At best, author and editor work together—the editor respecting the author’s vision, the author valuing the editor’s expertise. Often, discussing a trouble spot with an editor can show a way out of it that solves the problem to the author’s satisfaction  and makes the book a better read. And isn’t that what we all want…a thumping good read for a rainy Sunday afternoon?

So authors, learn to love your editor. Because editors love what we do… and we can’t do it without you.

Tune in later this week when Diane explains about her career as an audiobook narrator.

Diane Piron-Gelman is a writer, audiobook narrator and editor, and sole proprietor of Word Nerd, Inc. You can check out her business website at www.wordnrd.com; her author website at www.dmpirrone.net; and her personal blog, Word Nerd Notes, at www.wordnrd.wordpress.com.

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