View Full Version : [Discussion] The Editor's Role

Steven Forbes
08-07-2014, 07:46 AM
Okay, folks. You had to know it was coming eventually.

What do you think the role of the editor is? How would you describe it? Do you think they're necessary? Do you have any experiences working with one?

Let's talk about it!

I'm not going to talk about the role of an editor. I do it, so I'm not going to talk about it, and possibly color other's perceptions of the job. I'm not going to describe it, either, for that same reason.

Without trying to sound self-serving, I do believe that everyone needs an editor. If Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman need editors, then everyone needs one. That's how it goes. That's my own personal view. I've seen my work with and without one, and my work is better with one.

Now, that being said, for myself, I'm reluctant to do editorial changes. (gasp!) Very often, when I hand in a script, it's generally the way I want it. When I get notes back, I'm generally reluctant to do the changes, and I know this about myself, so I sit on the changes for a bit. I read through the proposed changes, sit on it, and then come back. If I feel they're valid, then I'll make the changes. If I don't, then I'll make my point of view known as to why I did it a certain way.

Surprisingly, though, I'm less reluctant to change dialogue. I have a pretty good ear for it, but sometimes I can run off at the mouth, or things can get a little clunky at times. I'm more amenable to changes to the dialogue, because oftentimes, the person editing me has come up with a different, more elegant way to approach the same problem.

I feel sorry for editors who have to work with me. They have to be strong in their convictions, but still let me do my job. It's not an easy job to edit me, because sometimes, it comes down to convincing me that your way is better than mine. Not always an easy task.

Now, let's talk about you!

08-07-2014, 11:51 AM
(First post woo!)

So, I come from academia, where feedback on written work is absolutely vital. Depending on the professor or colleague, obviously they'll have problems with different particulars, and some get more granular than others.

But the one thing that I always find most helpful in reviews of my academic work, or absolutely anything that I write, is being told that something is unclear, followed by a few brief words about what the confusion is.

I especially value critiques of clarity because 1. I wrote it, most of it is going to seem clear to me no matter how obtuse it is and 2. There is almost no way for me to argue the point, i.e. I am literally being told that somebody (the editor, who is still sort of a person), did not understand something. Period. I have to do something about that.

One of my favorite writing memories is a paper I wrote in undergrad that was about twenty pages, and I took it to my adviser so that he could help me edit it down as a writing sample. I sat there while he read through it, making a red mark here and a red mark there. Then, he got to a page, and put a big red slash THROUGH THE WHOLE PAGE. He proceeded to do that about five more times. That same paper is about twelve pages now, and it's a much tighter piece of work. And I absolutely never could have just thrown those pages out without benefiting from an editor.

As a general rule these days, I follow the Stephen King rule of thumb and shave 10% off any first draft, no matter what. I find that it helps a lot, but there are still a lot of other things (like clarity) that benefit from an extra set of discerning eyes.

08-07-2014, 12:13 PM
A good editor makes the work more what you intended it to be.

In comics, this can be different - if you're working from a treatment, the editor's job is also to put you back on the rails if you stray from it.

But a good editor is not going to "ruin" your work.

08-07-2014, 12:26 PM
The editor's purpose is to give the writer someone to blame. :nyah:

08-07-2014, 01:36 PM
I love working with an editor. Granted, I only have experience working with one particular editor - nonetheless, he rocks! My editor has the magical ability to reach into my head and bring me back to the center of my thinking process.

To me, writing without an editor would be like preparing a once-in-a-lifetime (no written recipes allowed!), grand feast for picky eaters and then forgetting to get a second taster's opinion for the salt/seasoning content. I know from experience, that there are times when my own taste buds can go a tad 'flat' after repeated sampling's of my fares. So it only makes sense to me to get help from a trusted adviser.

08-07-2014, 02:14 PM
From my POV there are two kind of Editors for comics:
1) The Publisher's Editor.
The person assigned by the Publisher to take over the direction and production of a comics project.
This Editor is hiring the whole artistic staff for the project.
He is the manager and coordinator of the entire project, from concept to final printing.
All adjustments, changes or modifications on writing or artwork are
subordinated to his final artistic direction.

2) The Author's Editor or Consulting Editor.
The person who's been hired by the same author for giving advice and helping him on improving
the script and make of it a publishable project.
All adjustments, changes or modifications on writing or artwork are
subordinated to the author's final artistic direction.

As exception, sometimes, the publisher could be the same person in charge of fulfilling the Editor's chores.
Editors: necessarily necessary.

08-08-2014, 05:06 PM
My editor has to teach me stuff. There will hopefully come a point when he doesn't have to do that.

A good editor is very important to a creative team, in my opinion. When I see little mistakes in a comic book, my first thought is, "who is the editor?".

08-08-2014, 05:36 PM
The editor is the guy who reminds the writer he is not the perfect genius he thinks he is. :slap:

08-09-2014, 12:38 PM
The editor's purpose is to give the writer someone to blame. :nyah:

This genuinely made me laugh out loud.

A good editor, like a good producer, will catch details you may have missed and keep the piece going in a good direction without interfering with the idea.

It's very easy to be so focused on what the end goal is that you can lose sight of a few details, and the end result is a loose piece of work that has wasted parts which bring nothing to the overall piece.
The editor will catch it and bring it up so the end result is a tighter solid piece of work.

It's also important to remember the editor isn't there to be your friend or your enemy.

I've had a few times when I get an edit back and it makes me want to scream.
Then I go have my tantrum and come back to it once my ego has calmed down and realize what I need to work on.

I like to read what I've written out loud, that usually catches a lot of small details and shows me if the lines work or not.
Worst report I ever got back was a copy edit that was summed up by the two words 'Barely mediocre'.

08-15-2014, 09:54 PM
I've been an editor.

We can help to make you 'look' better (read through all those Ebooks on amazon that were self-pubbed and see if an editor could NOT have helped :whistlin: ), and can even *gasp* improve and make you a better artist/writer/creative person.