Making Order out of Chaos

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Rule 17: Omit needless words
— Strunk & White “The Elements of Style”

I see editing as a collaborative process.  I want to understand what my client wants.

The most important tip I can offer you, is, COMMUNICATE

Let me know what you are looking for. If you don’t think we are on the same page, email, Skype, call, or text.  Sending images or notes are a great way for me to see what you are trying to accomplish.  It is my desire to fix your manuscript to your vision, I don’t want you to feel as though at the end, it is not your book.

I can tiptoe through your book very quietly  or as be as loud as a jackhammer as I go through your manuscript. I can go light and just do basic spelling, proofreading, and light on the commentary.

On the other hand, I can make suggestions about rhythm, tighten the text, change the transitions.  I can take total sections out, and either move them where they fit more linearly, or delete them all together.

TIP #2: If you are not sure, ASK QUESTIONS.

Don’t be shy. Don’t be hesitant.  Don’t think “she knows best, she’s the editor”.  No, I don’t always.  I have a different view of what you wrote because I am impartial and away from it.  I see it from various angles and perspectives that you may not have thought of when you were writing.

I bring my experience to the table to help get your vision just right for your manuscript.

I find that it is much smoother to work together as we go along, and fix the things that you have concerns about.

I like to send parts of the edited manuscript back to you as I finish them, so you can read them and make notes and ideas about what you like and don’t like.  It works so much better, I find, when we can fix what you are unsure about before we reach “THE END” of the manuscript.

Plus, if you ask now, you might find the answer I give you will send you off a different point to explore.

However, if you are the type that finds emails from your editor every other day or so to be too stressful, tell me. I will make this work for you.  If you want a status update, I’ll be happy to send you one.

If you want to discuss various things that have come to you the previous night or in the early morning over coffee and the paper, feel free to send me a note, text, or find me on my social media pages.  I’m here for you.  (Yes, I know I’ve said that idea before.  Even though I have said “repetitive” in your manuscript commentary, some ideas bear repeating).

Maybe your idea will spark something that has been gathering steam in my head and I’m stuck on how to get it into position for you.

Dialogue between editor and writer is critical.

I can’t stress this enough.  I want to know your thought process. Why you put that scene there. Tell me if it is tied to an important family memory, I will make a note to NOT fix it.

Editors don’t automatically fix EVERYTHING, even though we want to.  We understand when you say, “Please don’t mess with Grandma’s recipe. It’s not spelled correctly but that’s how she wrote it and I want to save it for posterity that way.” But, we don’t know that unless… (See TIP #1: COMMUNICATE)


Don’t let your first response always be “NO”.  I understand this is your blood, sweat, and tears.  I know how hard it is to turn it over to someone who will tear it apart and critique (not criticize) what you have worked so hard on, for so long. One of my favorite editorial cartoons, by the wonderful Debbie Ridpath Ohi, who can be found at shows this so well…
obsessive compulsive editor group
Listen to your editor’s reasoning on why she moved the paragraph.  You will find lots of commentary in the track changes bubbles from me, from ” I really like how this flows” to one or more of my editing jargon beginnings of sentences giving you a clue that I’m about to suggest something :

” Perhaps…”,

“Would it make sense to…”,

“How do you feel about…”

A friend, in an editing group I belong to posted this and it just resonates with me. Thought I’d share:

 “As editors, besides being wordsmiths, we’re also project planners, communications facilitators, time keepers, and task masters. We create order from chaos.” 

Hope you come back for more later, as I am off to create order…



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