Red flags when choosing an editor

From Rick:

Next week: Scott does Part 2 of his action scenes series.

For this off week, I wanted to give you a couple of articles on a topic near and dear to my heart: Editors.

A few years back I did a post on good and bad editors, and last year I did one on selecting an editor for your work.



Editors come in all shapes and lives, as well as with various levels of competence and incompetence. Unfortunately.

To those I’ll add a couple of red flags to watch for when selecting an editor.

(1) Former English teacher turned editor.

At first you’d think that an English teacher would be one of the best editors. While knowing all the ins and outs of grammar (allegedly), an English teacher can also be one of those editors who go too far and try to correct what should not be corrected (such as dialogue and the voice of the POV character).

I’m not saying that an English teachercan’t be a good editor. I’ve known a couple who are great editors. But first and foremost, your editor needs to be sensitive to the voice of the story and the characters and must not change anything that interferes with those.

(2) A technical editor turned fiction editor

I mean no disrespect to technical writers and editors, but technical writing and fiction writing are quite different beasts. I’ve encountered technical writers who are no doubt great at what they do, but when it comes to fiction… Well, let’s just say that editors who attempt to edit fiction the same way they edit technical writing are probably going to come up short–and you’re the one who might lose out. Be sure your editor is experienced with editing the type of work you are writing.

(3) The editor is a writer; the editor is not a writer.

While it’s certainly possible for a non-writer to be an editor, a writer may have better insight into what it takes to write. At the same time, writers-turned-editors may attempt to revise your work into the way they think it should be written.

An editor’s job is to make your writing the best it can be without turning into something it should not be.

(4) Now, just when I thought I’d heard of every possible caution and bad behavior regarding editors, Kris Rusch gave one almost worse than all the others. Read her article and be forewarned.


See you next week.


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