The Importance of an Editing Buddy (or Five!)

>> Monday, September 29, 2008

Today I realized again how important it is to have people who can critique and edit your writing. I am so thankful for my friend, Morgan, who has been both gracious and ruthless enough to edit some of my recent work. But we shouldn't let just anyone critique our writing. There are certain traits that I have found to be helpful in an editing buddy, and not every person has them.

What should you look for in an editing buddy?

1. Honesty. If you can't count on her honest opinion, no matter what it is, you will never receive any useful feedback. Without that, you will never improve any of your writing. We writers tend to become attached to certain characters or phrases we've written, and sometimes they just aren't necessary. We need someone to hand us the scalpel and tell us where to cut or operate, not let us live in an unrealistic world of perfection when it comes to our writing. Even if we write well, we can always write better.

2. Tact. This is closely related to the above point. While it is good to be honest about one's opinion, you want to choose an editing buddy that you won't get in an argument with every time you hand them work to critique. Let's face it: you won't be hurrying to give them more, if they deliver sharp diatribes about every single thing you've written, or just downright insult your writing. You want an editing buddy who can be both harsh and compassionate--someone who will get on to you about fixing mistakes, but also encourages you to do well and cheers with you when you get things right.

3. Decent Knowledge of the Essentials. This one should be obvious, but it needs to be said. Your Aunt Sally, who can barely spell, or your Cousin Johnny who specializes in run on sentences, are not the people you should choose to edit your work. An editing buddy should have a working knowledge of basic grammar, punctuation, and spelling. He does not have to be perfect (who is?), but the closer the better.

I will post the concluding part of this article soon. It will include five more traits, for a total of eight ideal traits in an editor. For now, I must attend my daughter.