Why editing isn’t just the how but the what  

Sharing is nice

Whenever I work with new authors, they’re eager and excited. And almost always they want to focus on how they did—whether the structure they used works and how well it “flows.”

But what I find almost 100% of the time is that first, they need help hearing what they said. And without exception, it’s surprising to them to realize what I’m hearing.

We think editing is a matter of mechanics. What we find is, it’s mostly about relevance and authenticity.

More than structure, we need to hear how we sound beyond our own heads.

Picture a singer too focused on all the other instruments to hear what his voice is contributing. Picture a painter thinking only of a person’s shape without perspective and the play of shadow and light on skin.

Language is magic. We don’t control it without patient work. And even then…

Are you open to hearing what you haven’t yet heard?

How else would we expect to learn to affect others with what’s in our minds and hearts that hasn’t yet been said?

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3 thoughts on “Why editing isn’t just the how but the what  ”

  1. I have noticed on several occasions how close your editing comes to what happens in a counseling office when more than one person is present. Therapist: “so, what did you hear him/her (the other person) say?” Then, to the other person “What did you think when your partner (parent, etc) was talking? How did you feel?” Even the therapist needs to stop and say “so, what are you hearing me say? How do you feel re that?”
    No surprise, either in counseling or editing that the process of communicating is not complete unless & until we’re sure the other person “gets it.” (Oh, but I’m sooo sure I’ve said what I want to say, or what my character needs to say, brilliantly! No, huh?)

  2. You heard right, Kathleen! Gold star! :) At its best, editing teaches good communication skills, logical thinking skills, and empathy–how to get in your listener’s shoes. What’s not to love?

  3. what you are sort of saying, no, not sort of, is that an author has hard work to do. it’s like tending a relationship that is worth having. and the relationship is with our own words! we are responsible to LISTEN, right?(among many many other things) and it’s a worthwhile endeavor and never easy. maybe that’s what makes it worth our while.

Discuss...