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The Editor’s Blog—Purpose

May 22, 2010 by Fiction Editor Beth Hill
last modified December 7, 2011

Though I love talking about writing, I never imagined I’d begin a blog about writing and editing. Yet, what better way to get information into writers’ hands? Provide a forum and encourage questions and the exchange of ideas.

My plan is to post weekly, more often if the mood strikes or I come across a topic that encourages exploration. I’m guessing you’ll find a lot of writing tips here. Maybe examples of what to do and what not to do. Probably lots of suggestions for writing better, for creating emotions in the reader, for keeping writers encouraged.

If you’re a writer, don’t let anything keep you from getting the words down. But don’t be discouraged if life keeps you from your keyboard. Just fight to get back to it when you can. If writing satisfies you, make time for it. If you intend to make money from it, give the craft your attention. If writing is what gets your soul moving, go after that passion with every part of you—bring all your strengths and skills to every project.

Learn to write better.

Want to write better.

If you’re an editor, keep in mind that you might be working on someone’s dream. Stay up on changes in word usage and audience expectation, and don’t forget to point out what works in a manuscript. Read for fun as well as for your job.

Give each edit the best of your skills and effort.

Remember that writing can be both art and business, both fun and work. Approach your writing with that knowledge. So that when the writing soars—and it will—you’ll recognize the beauty and the artistry. And when it’s time to work through the problem areas, you’ll know there are practical answers other writers and editors have used to overcome those problems.

Write well. Write often. Edit wisely.


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    Posted in: A Writer's Life

16 Responses to “The Editor’s Blog—Purpose”

  1. Donna says:

    I don’t have a website. Can we put a story on here or is this simply about reading what you write? Thank you….I am just beginning and not sure where to go and happened along this while surfing.

    Thanks again.

  2. Donna, welcome to the writing life. This blog is actually not for posting stories but for learning about writing and editing. I hope you can find helpful info for your writing career.

  3. Hi Beth,
    I’m so happy to have found this blog. I have read a few of your articles and I look forward to reading some more. Thank you for putting together a blog to help us aspiring writers. Your posts are full of some great information.


  4. Wendy, I’m glad you found the blog. I hope you find it helpful each time you visit. It’s my pleasure to encourage writers.

  5. Judy says:

    I am two weeks into editing a book (written by a client). It is much more time-consuming than I had ever thought it would be. Are there any HOW TO articles about editing a book. Like step 1, step 2. I could spend a life-time on this!

    • Judy, edits are indeed time-consuming. I’ve got a couple of articles that might help you out—try Checklist for Editors for one.

      Editing, like writing, can be approached in many ways, so there’s no one-size-fits-all method. But you should have a plan. Look for big-picture problems—that would be problems with any of the major elements of fiction. Check plot, character, dialogue, and setting. There’s no point in correcting fine-detail errors if the story’s focus or character or setting needs to be changed first.

      Make sure the writer has actually written scenes and not merely reports about the characters. If characters don’t act out events in identified settings—interacting with other characters and the setting itself—then having the writer create scenes would be a first step.

      A single article can’t cover everything needed for an edit, but a book might be able to take that on. You’ve certainly encouraged me to get to work on that project.

      I wish you success with your edit.

  6. Ansley says:

    Do you recommend MLA or Chicago? I’m a freelance editor for YA fiction and want to make sure I’m being consistent with the market!

  7. Ansley, go with Chicago for fiction. MLA is primarily a scholastic style guide suitable for academic writing—the focus is different from what you’d need for fiction. And the AP style guide is intended for jouralism and the peculiar needs of journalists.

    If you’re editing for American English (AmE) punctuation and spelling, use Chicago. If you’ll be editing for British English (BrE), use The Oxford Style Manual (what used to be Hart’s Rules).

    Good luck with your career!

  8. giniasperry says:

    Thanks for following my blog, Muse-ings, tonight. I love that you have a blog about editing and writing, one of my pet peeves are books, articles and blogs that have had no editing, large or small. It seems that copy editors are all but non-existant now. That being said, don’t hate me if there’s a mistake or two on my blog… :)

  9. I need an opinion or reference. My issue is to how and when to change the relationship between characters by moving from a formal name to a personal name. For example, in the military, people are often called by their last name in formal or even informal work situations. But I want to show a change in the relationship by moving to the first name at some point, while continuing to use the last name when the characters interact with others. My purpose is to show the recognition of an expanded identity between two or more people, which allows them to communication with more personal dialog. Yet maintain their relationship with others, as their status, such as promotion or demotion occurs in their lives
    Thanks for any advice on how to directly or indirectly make this two way transition

  10. Nessa says:

    I just discovered you and devoured all your wise thoughtful advice. I am so happy to have met a real and caring editor, not some imagined deity in a lofty office, scowling at questionable commas. Thank you for helping me format my synopsis; you have really encouraged me. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you in return.

  11. Hi Beth!

    I found your blog today via Scrivener’s short story template. I’ve forgotten where I got the free template from. It is something that I just started using and it is quite helpful as it comes with explanations and guides you in the writing process. It is within the template that I found your url link and got here today. Nice!

    Bookmarked and subscribed to your blog and followed you via Twitter. Great blog with writing tips from someone like you – an editor – who is in the writing industry. And one that I will definitely follow in terms of writing tips and advice – much thanks for sharing!

  12. Kandle says:

    I’m exploring book editing as a possible second career and trying to do as much research as I can. I’ve read articles and blogs about being an editor, what some requirements and skills and education one might need. But I haven’t seen much references about where one would work. I live in the U.S. and I was wondering where book editors go to do their job. Is it something you can do anywhere in the U.S.? Or is there a specific place that’s “commonly” known to aspiring editors? For example, people who want to study music might consider Julliard. People who want to into the fashion/cosmetics industry might move to New York. Is there a place like that for editors? Thank you!

  13. Anne Hodges says:

    I just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful blog and site. I enjoy it immensely. What impresses me the most, and something I haven’t encountered often, is the continuous reminder to writers that we are writing for the readers, not just agents and publishers. For me, it is so much easier to craft a story thinking about an individual reader being able to understand and enjoy my work. When I read your advice, it makes me feel like I’m creating the best story I can.

    • Thank you, Anne. I’m glad that you’re finding the site useful.

      Unfortunately, we do sometimes neglect the reader. Yes, a story has to be complete in itself, but it has to appeal to some audience as well. Writers can’t worry about what readers will think of a story, not in a way that straitjackets the writer. But writers do need to work at ways of engaging readers. So it’s less about writing what readers will “like” and more about writing what readers will read, about what will snare and then hold them.

      And it’s a topic I could go on and on about, so I’ll stop there.

      I hope you continue to find resources here at the blog that you can use.