What Can an Editor Do That You Can't?--Reb MacRath

Tomfoolishness and poverty prevented me for too long from having anyone edit my work. After all, I reasoned, what could one do that I couldn't? I went through every page no less than fifty times, then ran the last through Premium ProWriting Aid. I had beta readers too. And I had won a Stoker Award, along with some glowing reviews. But I'd entered the Zone of the Big-Time Boohoo, readier by the day to rant until the cows came home against agents and trad publishing. Or, worse, to  beg hourly on Facebook for more reviews and sales. My work, I believed, had been good enough--but good enough no longer cuts it.

Last year I reviewed my quandary in a colder light. I'd been around for decades: first as a horror writer, then as the author of mysteries too quirky and short for the  gatekeepers' taste. And, as an older writer, I may have grown set in my ways--likely more than a few of them bad.

I had to reinvent myself, to do something dramatically different. It had to be bigger and better than anything else that I'd done. At the same time, it had to be free of past rot, reading more quickly and clearly. 

A book idea came to me that I thought might be perfect--with the right editor's help. And I thought I might know the right one for the job. I retained Luke Romyn to edit the book's opening pages--ready whether an agent asked for the first five, ten, twenty-five, or fifty. Luke did phenomenal work, so good that I decided to have him edit the book in sections through this year.

To answer the question posed in my title, the right editor can do these nine things and more:

1) Streamline, clarify, and simplify phrasing.

2) Help the plotting put on speed.

3) Point out references and allusions that younger readers might miss.

4) Spot reduce paragraphs that carry too much weight.

5) Know when to cut or move passages that don't work where they are.

6) Let the writer know when words or phrases may be unintentionally offensive. 

7) Tell the writer when clues are late or premature.

8) Suggest dramatic gestures to bring dialogue to life.

9) Over and over, admonish the writer to show and not tell.

10) Improve dialogue that's stiff or out of character. 

Back to work now, readying the next chapters to send Luke...when he returns from Mount Everest!


Welcome to MacRathWorld, if you like premium blends of mystery, action, and suspense. From Caesar's Rome to Seattle today, the twists fly at the speed of night. If you're unfamiliar with my work, I recommend starting with the new Seattle BOP mysteries. Here's the link to my AuthorPage on Amazon for a detailed look at the variety of 'rides' in my amusement park.




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