Am editing

Today’s friendly neighborhood blog is a collection of my #amediting tweets from Twitter. Whenever a thought crossed my mind while editing (which was rare, because my thoughts were generally caught up in crossing someone else’s mind) I took the time to go tweet it. Great procrastination technique, fyi, though us procrastinators usually don’t need tips.

Some of these are actually valuable for an editor, some are silly, some may be wrong. But one thing about them all, they’re short.

Since I collected them off Twitter, they’re in backwards order from when they started.


  • Any editor who don’t worship the paper his writer writes on ain’t worth the letter e.
  • Improvement is painful.
  • Never begrudge the writer their tantrums.
  • Beware of the writer’s resistance building up in you over time. Energy that should go toward story can leak into neurosis.
  • Just because something feels a certain way doesn’t make it true.
  • Words of wisdom: the, and, but.
  • Just because you have an excuse for why something could be some way is no reason to keep it that way, if it wasn’t deliberate.
  • We don’t need no stinking badges:
  • I just go by the rules. What’s the big deal?
  • If you’re a novelist you have to know everything. Sorry.
  • When I’m writing, it’s all about me. When I’m editing, nothing is about me. What a relief!
  • Unfortunate discovery #732: Even editors encounter resistance.
  • Not sure I would ever want to work on a novel that didn’t address the big questions. Maybe, if it was good.
  • I do want to change some of your words, but I never want to change any of your meaning.
  • Words are only scary if you have to write them. Otherwise not.
  • If you want to do more than tell the truth, you’ll have to find another editor.
  • If it’s a vague place in the south of France, a generic provincial villiage is okay. But if in Paris you better get the streets right.
  • Beware superlativity. Everything is not the biggest or the worst or the grandest or the whatever-est. Serious.
  • Let the non-fiction writers belittle stuff.
  • One thing about being an editor, you don’t have to be artistic in the least. Man, that’s a load off!
  • It’s all about levels within layers within mysteries of imagination.
  • Because that’s how it rolled out of my pen is not necessarily a good argument.
  • Killing your darlings is a heck of a lot easier when they ain’t your darlings.
  • Show me the money!
  • It doesn’t matter if something is a cliché or not. It only matters if it’s true.
  • The comma is your best bet, unless other punctuation is indicated (after the beloved period, of course).
  • The only thing an editor need really worry about is story. All else is extraneous, including the author’s poor benighted ego.
  • Someday I want to look upon coffee as more of a beverage than a drug.
  • Writing your own novel is suffering the torments of the damned. Editing somebody else’s novel is looking on and giggling.
  • Anytime you think something is about you, you’re probably wrong.
  • One never knows what other people know. Best to ask.
  • The finest tool of the writer (other than his ass of course) is the ability to learn. Most already know, so can’t be bothered to learn.
  • If editors were 100% honest with most writers, they wouldn’t get any clients. I prefer to call it diplomacy rather than lying.
  • Unless your editor is a better writer than you, you’re hosed, dude.
  • One bad thing about being an editor is pretty soon you edit everything in your head. Can be annoying. Thought-editing, oh yay.
  • Words are funny that way.
  • An editor is someone who will torment you when the chips are down.
  • As an editor it’s my job to advocate for the story in opposition to the writer’s ego.
  • It’s about the product, not the process.
  • Amazing how much easier and pleasanter it is to notice the screwups in other people’s writing.
  • Editing is not the process of sitting back and oohing and ahhing about how great everything is. Sorry.
  • Never realized editing was such a sweet gig. All the pain and suffering has been gone through already. Now you just word it up!
  • You can’t base your novel-writing on the opinions of civilians or you’ll always be small potatoes.
  • Other people are just like you, except different.
  • When deciding whether to pronounce coyote as cai-ote or cai-o-tee, I will always choose the one that’s closer to yodeling.
  • Emotions are the writers toolbox. They must all be instantly available at all times. Best keep insanity in that little drawer.
  • Just because you got words don’t mean ya gotta use ‘em.
  • The only difference between a good editor and a bad one is the bad one sucks.
  • Style is nice as a hobby, but you can’t make a living at it.
  • Writing dialogue is actually just listening to your character speak and taking it down.
  • Emotional blackmail is a good tool to use to get your clients to treat you more humanely.
  • A well-turned-out cliché, used at the proper time, is a marvel of originality.
  • An example of the problem with clauses: He went to the bathroom, running to the front door.
  • As an editor you have to remember it’s only fair if you have to suffer once in a while, too.
  • An editor works more for the book than the author, but don’t tell anybody.
  • A good editor should squeak loudly when being used as a whipping boy by the client—customer service always a priority.
  • It’s not a true author-editor relationship until the editor has been threatened with firing.
  • Fixing stuff is way way way easier than making stuff, especially if all you got to do is fix it.
  • Save your best writing for the dialogue.
  • Wanted to be concrete in a specific area of the mss, so changed ‘stone’ to ‘concrete’.
  • Changed ‘bottom’ to ‘top’.

Filed under: Editing Fiction, Writing | Posted on October 17th, 2011 by LWIII

2 Responses to “Am editing”

  1. “Other people are just like you, except different.”
    – I would edit this into “exactly the same, but then totally different”.

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