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Richard Nordquist

What Is a Good Editor?

By May 7, 2010

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You don't have to work for a magazine or newspaper to benefit from the help of a good editor. A teacher, a colleague, or even your overworked mom may be willing to assume that role. And responding to thoughtful criticism, regardless of who delivers it, should help you improve your writing.

But how do you know if your editor is a good one and if the advice you're getting is sound? Try evaluating your editor (or teacher, colleague, or mom) according to the qualities identified by these ten professionals. . . .

For the complete article, see Ten Characteristics of a Good Editor.


May 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm
(1) Irfan Mirza says:

From the point of view of a person who likes to write and not from that of the organization which has hired an editor to create final pieces, of the points listed in the post, the ones which I most definitely agree with are:

A Reader; A Critical Thinker; A Quiet Conscience;

The point that I somewhat agree with is:

A Trial Horse; And the initial few lines of the thoughts mentioned under the title, A Partner.

An editor as an expert should not do a rewrite on my behalf, but instead should be willing to share with me, in as frank and straightforward a manner as possible without hurting the professional relationship, what he or she thinks is not right and, more importantly, why it’s not right. In the process, not only allowing me to improve my work but also allowing me to gain an insight into what that person thinks actually works and why in that person’s view it works. In short, an editor should be willing to assume the role of a mentor in as earnest a manner as possible: I have to help this person deliver it in the best possible manner without actually doing it for him or her.

May 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm
(2) nan says:

Help! I have an editing question. I have been asked to look over the invitations to our high school students’ thesis presentations. Would it be “the students’ thesIs presentations” or “the students’ thesEs presentations? Somehow it seems to me that the one plural in “presentations” is enough even though there are several students and several theses. One would not say “their essays presentations.” What is the grammatical terminology I need here?

May 7, 2010 at 4:33 pm
(3) grammar says:

I agree with you: “the students’ theses” (where “thesis” is used as a noun) but “the students’ thesis presentations” (where “thesis” functions as a modifier).

May 10, 2010 at 11:26 am
(4) Susan says:

An good editor is…

- like a sculptor, shaping and meticulously removing the extraneous to bring out the beauty within

- an advocate who aims to get fair pay and treatment for her writers

May 10, 2010 at 12:30 pm
(5) Levi Bookin says:

Heavy editing involves, if necessary, reshaping the text, so that its components fit together in a logical flow of thought.

Light editing, which I do both before and after heavy editing, is more concerned with usage and style.

If so commissioned, I may perform a light edit, only, but I point out what I would have don in a heavy edit.

May 14, 2010 at 12:47 am
(6) Darkenwulf says:

Isn’t it fascinating how we take general titles like Editor and add the real time and abstract attitudes to a title and generally ignore the person? What are you saying, Bruce Blanchard, are you saying there is no such thing as a genuine editor? Let’s review what the editor does, outside of the quotes which speak only half-truths.
1) The editor watches over us. 2) The editor speaks to those to those around us and tell them to accept what we submit. 3) On one side, he/she satisfies us and on the other side, he/she finds the places where we “might” fit in with minor adjustments. In the end, the Editor is the one who will take what we submit and try to make it fit in the narrow limits of a publisher’s ideas. On one hand, we are to submit and, on the other, don’t give an inch. The Editor is not a position but a person taking on submissions and feeding them into the general grist mill.
He/She is the one person we depend upon and the one person who will take our manuscript and send it down to hell. We take our chances, we pay our dime, and we dance the dance. Trust them and then don’t trust them; either way, work with them or don’t. And remember – they are human beings.

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