5 Reasons Every Author Needs Editors by Julie Cantrell
Building a story is not so different from constructing a skyscraper. An architect produces a design—something that has never been seen in the world—but his sketches won’t necessarily create a high-rise that stands. That’s when the engineer comes in, ensuring that the spine of the building is structurally sound so that visitors will be safe when they dare to enter.
In many ways an author’s role is similar to that of an architect, creating something new for the world to enjoy. Then an editor works to make sure that “creation” is structurally sound before anyone enters. A good editor will prevent the plot arc from collapsing, fill any dangerous holes, and ensure the reader won’t getting lost in the layout.
Here are five reasons every author needs an editor:
- Look Through a Different Lens: When writing, an author visualizes the story clearly, but those ideas don’t always make it through to the reader. An editor can point out scenes that seem unclear and suggest details that need to be added in order to help readers connect the dots.
- Tweak the Timeline: Writers sometimes shift scenes, cut chapters, or use flashbacks within the story. This can cause glitches in the matrix, so to speak. An editor can watch for holes in the timeline, gaps in the story’s progress, and mismatched chapter sequences to ensure the story flows smoothly from beginning to end.
- Strengthen the Narrative Arc: Every story needs a plot. In fact, the best stories include both an external and internal structure. The protagonist should have a clear goal with real consequences at stake. Likewise, the obstacles must be believable and the tension should increase at a steady pace, all while the main character is experiencing his own personal growth. Ideally, the reader should embark on a quest that taps strong emotions along the way. An editor can ensure the arc is well-formed, with appropriate peaks, plummets, and pauses to keep readers turning the page.
- Personality Profile: Even in the most action-based narratives, character development is crucial. In order to root for a protagonist, readers must feel empathy for him from the start and continue to like this character even when he presents faults along the way. It’s also imperative to ensure the voicing remains true throughout the book. Editors tune their ears to dialog and point out places where the voicing shifts. Overall, an editor can suggest subtle ways to make a character more likeable, more resilient, and more believable.
- Polish and Shine: A clean manuscript is a beautiful piece of art. On final rounds, a copyeditor can add the top coat of gloss by double-checking for mistakes in spelling, grammar, and style.
As an author, I’m grateful for the editors who have helped me bring my novels into the world, and as an editor, I’m passionate about helping other writers do the same. While I am honest and thorough with my edits, I also believe an editor’s encouragement can make all the difference in a story’s progress. That’s why I aim to elevate the skills of every author—never to leave a writer feeling deflated or unheard as we partner together to preserve the writer’s creative vision and voice.
In hopes of helping even more stories reach shelves, I’m excited to announce the launch of BlueSpark Editorial, LLC. (www.bluesparked.com)
If you (or someone you know) is in need of an editor, please reach out via email@example.com Let’s bring YOUR stories to life!
Julie Cantrell is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novelist. Her fourth novel, Perennials, hit shelves in November. Learn more about Julie’s work by visiting www.juliecantrell.com or view her inspiring TEDx: Two Questions That Will Change Your Life