I received this in conversation with Kay Green of Circaidy Gregory Press and I thought it was so good that I had to share it. An insight for us writers about the importance of editing
Proof reading is one of the reasons editors are needed – it’s hard to correct your own work because you already know it so well you read what is supposed to be there, rather than what is.
At a deeper level, the same is true of fiction editing. I constantly hark back to a fantastic lecture I went to by Beverley Birch, writer and editor of novels for children. She had an extended metaphor running through the whole lecture in which the writer was a film director, the editor a producer and – well, editor.
But the difference is in what has already been made in the writer’s head. When you write a novel, by the end of the first draft the story is complete in your head, as a film or, as internal films are most commonly known, a ‘daydream’. You can see it all perfectly, and the words you write and re-write are the imperfect pencil lines on that bit of tracing paper. The problem is that you, the author, cannot switch off the film completely – it’s indelibly in your head – so you cannot see what the words alone look like when the tracing paper (your ms) is moved away from the original (your daydream). Only your editor can do that.