Sunday, February 5, 2017

Editorial Priviledge

How far should a writer allow their editor to dictate how the final product should appear?  Nothing a writer produces is done without considerable thought and deliberation and, when finished, satisfies the writer that it is complete: The plot is correctly presented, all the principals are as imagined, the settings are appropriate, and the message - the underlying meta story - is clear.

Word choices and sentence structure, not to mention grammar, can always be improved or, if not, modified to meet the market demands that the editor must serve.  Length is optional and can be expanded or reduced to fit the space available.  Plots may be rearranged to improve the story, for dramatic effect, or ease of understanding. The editor might suggest better word choices or delete objectionable items that might affect the story's reception.

Only the most egotistical writer refuses to budge on these necessary technical changes to their work.

Where the relationship between author and editor runs afoul is when the editor insists on altering the plot, changing a character's personality, inserting a message not originally intended, or twist the plot away from the initial concept.  When the editor oversteps their bounds is where the writer must stand their ground, regardless of how desperately they want the tale to be published. To do otherwise is to stifle creativity and violate intellectual integrity.

The negotiation between editor and author tests bounds as the tale goes through the stages of development toward a satisfactory result. There are inevitable conflicts, disagreements, and compromise along the way since egos and professional judgements are involved.  The author might walk away or decide the effort it not worth the hassle.  The editor may similarly quit or simply give up and allow the writer to have their way, regardless of how poor their choice.  But, in more cases than not, the editor and writer compromise, make the necessary changes, and move forward.

This relationship between editor and author is worst is when they are the same person.


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