January 25, 2012

What does it take to become a good developmental editor?

An Editor’s Guide to Working with Authors, by Barbara Sjoholm, is available through the Clinic website or in person and online from several Seattle bookstores. In 2012, we’re happy to announce the eBook edition for the Kindle and the Nook. Here’s an excerpt from the Introduction:

Learning to analyze the issues in a long manuscript is only part of what it takes to become a good developmental editor. The more challenging task for many editors is to discover how best to communicate observations and suggestions in ways that encourage authors to make changes but also respect the author’s own wishes and visions for the manuscript. Particularly for editors coming from a copyediting background, who know a vast number of rules and are accustomed to wielding a red pencil with The Chicago Manual of Style as final arbiter, it can be unsettling (as well as liberating) to realize that editing fiction and creative nonfiction sometimes comes down to a matter of taste and intuition.
In the word “copyediting,” the object is embedded in the verb: you don’t edit an author, you edit copy. But in editing fiction and creative nonfiction, what you edit is not copy. It’s the heart and soul and imagination of a real person. A writer.


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