What Makes a Good Editor?

A writer isn't just a person with a laptop (or a notebook). Writing is an art form, an eloquent avenue of personal and professional expression. Writers put their hearts and souls into their creations, and use their words as a vehicle to share their ideas, passions, and mission with the world. 

Similarly, a good editor isn't just a critic with a red pen. Rather, s/he is a multifaceted resource dedicated to helping authors hone their writing so that it becomes the most accurate, articulate, and inspiring expression of their thoughts. 

A good editor isn't just a critic with a red pen.

A good editor is a coach, a sounding board, a mirror, and a trusted ally. S/he strives to understand each author's creative process, and to work in concert with that process. At the same time, a good editor knows that editing is a skill set separate from writing, and relies on his or her knowledge of language, grammar, and form to set parameters within which each author's writing can shine.

A good editor reads objectively, without any personal bias or agenda. S/he is always willing to learn, and will ask educated questions about new or challenging subject matter. Acting as the mouthpiece of future readers, s/he will point out passages that need clarification, or offer opposing viewpoints for the purpose of discussion, but will never criticize the author's chosen subject material. If s/he cannot be an unbiased voice for the writer, a good editor will refer the project to someone who can. 

The best editors are the ones who help their writers transcend their limitations (real or perceived) and become masters in their personal styles. 

A good editor doesn't use shame, blame, or negative criticism to get a point across. Rather, s/he aims to share tools and knowledge which empower writers to elevate their craft. 

More than anything else, a good editor can take a raw manuscript, article, blog, or e-book and sharpen it into a powerful, memorable work which still reads and feels like the writer's own. The best editors are the ones who help their writers transcend their limitations (real or perceived) and become masters in their personal styles. 

Where could a relationship with a great editor take your writing? Maybe it's time to find out! 

Bryna Rene Haynes is the founder and President of The Heart of Writing. In over a decade as a writer, editor, ghostwriter, designer, and publishing consultant, she has helped hundreds of authors find their authentic voices and create powerful, memorable, successful works.