I Won't Pull an Ursula

Look, I am not here to steal your voice. I have recently heard from some writers that they are terrified that an editor will try to steal their voices. As if editors were huge purple women that like to sing about poor unfortunate souls. Or, if you like to kick it more old school, we are huge Hollywood execs that will make someone sing and talk for you behind a curtain (a la Singing in the Rain).

Let's be clear. I do not want to steal your voice. I want you to use it because that what makes you beautiful (please refrain from Googling One Direction songs until you have finished reading this). I  am more like that random guy that talks about roses and Moses in Singing in the Rain. I just want you to enunciate, err, write clearly so that you can be understood. I don't want you to be a completely different person. Would someone want Gene Kelly to change completely?! No way! That's crazy! Who else would inspire us to dance in rain storms?

A good editor will do a couple of things:

  • Safeguard against typos (it is kind of like walking around with toothpaste on your shirt).
  • Ensure that your grammar and spelling is correct.
  • Make sure your writing is structured in an organized and clear way.

Basically, act as a second set of eyes, so your content is clearly communicated to your audience.

This does not include changing "your voice" or the basic message of your content. That is mean girl stuff (even though we are all still trying to make fetch happen).

Also, a good editor knows the line between grammatical errors and poetic license. For example, I have had clients insist on using all lowercase letters and "+" instead of "and." Was that a problem? Absolutely not! They were both artists, and it was part of their style and brand. Nobody criticized e.e. cummings for going rogue with grammar. And they would have been fools if they did.

Bottom line: a good editor will respect your voice while still trying to get you to communicate as clearly as possible. I know that is always in the forefront of my mind when I am editing someone's work. So, let's work together and tap dance our way to a great book.