Have No Fear of Editors

Photo by Patou

Over the holdidays, I received my list of edits from Charisma House. As I held my mouse over the Click To Open tab, scary thoughts ran through my head. We've all heard the horror stories of editors saying they enjoyed an author's book, but would recommend that 300 pages be cut. I didn't know if I would be able to salvage my story from scratch if I got that kind of rejection.

After four seconds of scaring myself witless, I opened the document. To my relief, the editor assigned to me liked the book. In a friendly manner, she highlighted the story's strong points and proceeded to tell me about some elements that needed tweaking. Here are a couple.

Background: My story takes place in a town of 400 people. With a town that small, the population is bound to know who's who and what's going on behind every door. I thought I had captured the feel of such a place, but my editor rightly pointed out that there wasn't enough interaction between the hero and the background characters. Since I have him making the acquaintance of the ostracized heroine, I realized that the readers needed to see how the townspeople's opinions affected him.

Plot Devices: I had one scene dealing with a natural disaster that my editor advised me to nix, citing that it didn't really do much to advance the story. Looking at my outline again, I see what she means. The scene was filler. Instead of external tension, I could focus on increasing the conflict between the hero and heroine through other means.

By the time I finished reading my edit list, I had a better handle on how to tighten up the story. Not to mention my fears of the editor were put to rest. She gave me an introduction into her job and life outside of publishing. I even learned that we share something in common. We both enjoy visiting art museums.

God's lesson for me? Don't fear the editor. They are people, too. Smart, well-read people that want to help sell your book. Have an open mind about the story changes they want to make.

If the goal is to be published and to appeal to a target audience, then trust the editor to help you reach that goal.

How have your experiences been with editors or critique partners? Do critiques scare you?