Quote It! Writing and Editing

maugham460“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.”

–Somerset Maugham, 1874-1965, British playwright, novelist (Of Human Bondage) and short story writer.

Cherryh_CJ“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”

–C.J. Cherryh, a United States science fiction and fantasy author who has written more than 60 books since the mid-1970s, including the Hugo Award winning novels Downbelow Station (1981) and Cyteen (1988).

This is one of the things I love the most about writing and editing–the complementary nature of the two skills. As an editor, I never think, How can I change this piece of writing?

No, it’s more a question of How can I polish the gems already here to help them sparkle as brightly as they can? As a team, writers and editors don’t work for each other, they work for the reader–without whom, the best writing and editing is for naught.

Your turn: How do you prefer to work with an editor?


Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Mike-9Michael loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.


6 thoughts on “Quote It! Writing and Editing

  1. While my experience with editors has been limited, each time I have found it exhilarating. You edited my article for The ACFW Journal, and Deborah Raney has edited my first two novel manuscripts. I love being pushed to do better by someone who works hard to make my work shine, while coaching me in the craft. That’s not to say it’s an easy process, but I do enjoy it very much.

    • I agree, Larry. I love working in collaboration with an editor or crit group that I trust to make my writing shine. I have never seen writing as a solitary pursuit. Maybe that’s from my newspaper days when I learned “no prima donnas allowed” in the newsroom. Lol!

  2. Reading the quotes made me feel tons better about my writing. There are times when it certainly looks like garbage to me. Then a member of my critique group will suggest something brilliant (I remember a few coming from you 🙂 ), and suddenly things look better.

    How do I prefer to work with an editor? As often as I can. And I love having someone who thinks like I do–only better.

    • For many writers, getting over the idea that it has to be perfect is tough. Because we’re also told that our writing should be as good as possible before sending it to an editor or agent. That’s a huge tension to get past.

      For me, where this idea comes into play is in the first draft stage. Before even my critique partners see it. This is where garbage has to be OK, because otherwise I get sucked into the Spiral of Revision.

      Critique groups, or freelance editors, help us get our writing “as good as it can be” before we submit. Key distinction.

  3. Great quotes! My editors have all been anonymous (through contests and such), but their feedback has been tremendous in challenging me to bring out the best in my stories and characters.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s