How badly can an editor ruin your story?

I self published and had an editor who simply corrected grammar and such while calling out inconsistencies (such as a door code being two different numbers in two different scenes).

While I worked on another book I worked with a different editor. This one was a far left radical who provided sociopolitical commentary as he read and told me how certain things should or shouldn't be in my story. For example sexy female characters were a problem (in typical hypocritical fashion, sexy male characters were not). He also told me I could only have 3 pov characters, and one of them was not the MAIN CHARACTER.

Are most editors like the first one, who was more objective? Or are they more like the second one, who was subjective and biased? I'm considering going traditional through a publisher, but if it means someone can wrestle control from my story away like that I'll stay indie.

16 Answers

Relevance
  • 2 months ago

    referees control a sporting event from chaos 

    editors control writers from producing rubbish 

  • ?
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    While an Editor is expected to fix spelling, grammar, punctuation etc, they should never change the body of your story. I wrote an historically accurate article for a local newspaper some years ago. By the time it went to print, the story did not resemble what I had written. They even attached the wrong photo.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

     “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”   -  Samuel Johnson

    Attachment image
  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    A book that hasn't been edited can ruin a story.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 2 months ago

    A bad editor can indeed ruin your story--but it sounds to me like you don't have much objectivity yourself. 

    If you don't like the editor you chose, you have the choice not to continue with them. 

  • ?
    Lv 5
    2 months ago

    sounds you hate critics , have to be your way does it , lol , the editor was right you fool .get over it , you cant write .

  • 2 months ago

    He is adding his political views which should not be there. A good editor looks to help improve the writing, not correct it.

  • 2 months ago

    I write science fiction, and have a strong astronomy background, having worked on a couple space projects and taught the subject for 34 years, so I find that while editors are okay for grammar and spotting easy inconsistencies, if I accidentally have a scientific slip it sails right by them.  I have a writers group devoted to SF that I hope catch scientific slips (far more frequently I catch theirs!)

  • 2 months ago

    It's not 'ruining' it if the comments are constructive.  Each of those are focusing on different aspects.  

    The first was doing a pre-vetting for the printer along with pointing out some of the minimal inconsistencies they found, without looking very deep at the plotting. 

    The second one was more in depth pointing out plot issues that a discriminating reader would get stuck on.  It goes beyond the craft of just looking at words and targets the actual focus of the plot. 

    You can ignore either one, of course,  but take time to really THINK about what you were told and see if it makes for a better story. 

  • ?
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Like writing, editing is a skill. If I were going to commission a story, I'd choose an author whose style I happened to like. I'd also choose a person who understands that when someone is paying you for a service, your job is to do what you're being paid to do according to the parameters set by the person who's paying you. It's not a dichotomy. It's not as though the two types of editors that you described are the only kind out there. There are just as many different kids of editors as there are kinds of authors. I'll never understand how people get to the point where they're considering self-publishing original material when they are so astonishingly ignorant when it comes to the mechanics of writing and the basic steps in the writing process. If you're thinking about publishing you ought to have at least one person that you can ask to take a look at your manuscript. I've been working with my editor for years and years. Occasionally I might collaborate with other people, but he and I have a great working relationship. He knows my style, I know what his tendencies are, we find a happy medium. That's what you want. 

    You're the writer. If you want professional quality work, you want informative, insightful feedback, honest and straightforward criticism from a knowledgeable person, and you want to be happy with the end result, then be willing to pay for it. Any idiot can claim to be an editor and do nothing but trim your word count down and swap a few synonyms here and there and charge you good money for doing practically nothing. If you don't have a working relationship with anybody who has any experience with editing, then you'll have to recruit someone. That means that you'll have to be willing to pay for it. It also means that you'll have to make it clear that it's your work, and because you're paying for that person's services he or she ought to to strive to adhere to the gist of the general vision that you have for that piece. Obviously you want to hear good advice, from time to time that might even include a dissenting opinion - it might even lead to some head-butting. But at the end of the day, everything should be your call. And a really good editor would know to find that balance. 

    If I were to submit a piece to my editor and say "Just do whatever you think is right". he'd be totally floored. He'd say to himself "Old Andy must not really have much of himself invested in this piece." And if I were to submit something with a thousand instructions micro-managing his editing checklist, he'd send it right back and say "Well, looks like you've got it all figured out, guess you won't be needing me then." 

    Have some idea what you expect an editor to do, specifically. Then, build relationships with a few of them and see how their approach to the job differs. Once you've done that, see which ones you get on with personally and which ones you think do the best work. it can only be hoped that the person who comes in first in both categories is the same person. 

    And it wouldn't hurt for you to try your hand at editing your own stuff. You'll never learn if you don't give that a go. 

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.