Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Editors Want -- Writing Tip

Those of us who trained as writers, whether we were taught by other writers or college professors, were taught to seek Artistry with Words.

Sometimes we try too hard for artistry and the editor says "it's purple." But our conscious desire is to tell the story as an artist with words.

I've grumbled about editors "asking the impossible" many times, myself. Now that I've become one, I know their first priority is to be DONE with your piece so they can go on to the next one on their list. Anything you do that slows the editors down will annoy them. And working with an annoyed editor is next-to-impossible. I know, because I've done it.

Speaking as a sometime editor, here’s MY "What an Editor needs" list in order of importance:

1. Good clean mistake-free copy that arrives well before deadline.

2. Coherent and organized prose that is never confusing to the reader.

3. Authors who will listen to what the editor is saying about the assignment and will produce the desired results the editor has asked for without going off on a tangent of their own.

4. Authors who will pay attention to length requirements. Three thousand words means “three thousand Words, or LESS”. It doesn’t mean 3001 words. Editors can always stretch copy, but they can't stuff 12 inches of prose into a six inch hole.

5. Stories or information that readers will enjoy, or that will benefit them in some way.

6. Authors who don’t take unnecessary time. Who ask just enough questions to know what’s wanted then go away and produce it without talking about their grandchildren, dogs or in-growing toenails. Authors who don't pass on spam, or e-mail jokes, or pictures of their cats.

7. Authors who don’t interrupt their work flow by telephone or send twenty e-mails a day wanting to know when their book, or story, or article, will be published.

8. Authors who listen to suggestions and produce results without whining.

9. Clear, concise, informative prose without repetition or padding.

10. Artistry with words.

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