Fiction Writers, why work with a freelance fiction editor for your novel?
It depends on what your needs are. The decision to hire a fiction editor is a very personal one. In this series of articles, we’ll look at the following considerations:
♦ What level of writing should I be at in order to get the most out of professional fiction editing services?
♦ The Benefits and Drawbacks to a Critique Group
♦ What a freelance fiction editor can do for a published novelist or pre-published fiction writer (and what they can’t)
♦ Why a freelancer fiction editor may NOT be right for you
It seems that I run into two main mindsets when it comes to discussions about editing:
Some people are so desperate to be published that they run around from conference to conference, are active in about sixteen different critique groups, and forty different online writers discussion groups. They have an entire library full of writing books, and they agonize at least twenty times a day about the contradicting advice given. If someone they considered important were to suggest a freelance editor to them, they wouldn’t sleep until they found an editor. They are Desperate.
Others respond to talk about getting an editor with a “ho-hum” roll of the eyes and a slight curl to their lip. “Editors,” they opine, “are a waste of time and money. If you really MUST get feedback on your work, join a critique group. At least there, the bad advice you get will be free.” They are Cynical.
Neither of these extremes is healthy. The Desperate-To-Be-Published Writer needs to take a chill pill and calm down and think things through. The Cynic might need to consider that we ALL need feedback on our work, and that sometimes a professional eye is just the extra push someone needs to reach their artistic goals.
If you are trying to make the decision about hiring a freelance fiction editor, first you’ll need to consider:
Level of Writing
If you are a beginning writer and still struggling with the craft of writing fiction, and if you would like individualized help, you should consider hiring a writing coach. Professional fiction editing may not be the right choice for you. The best time to look at professional editing for your novel is after you know the basics.
For example, do you understand the following:
♦ Plot structure elements like pacing, conflicts, tension, climax, and resolution?
♦ How to identify which point of view you are writing from?
♦ The difference between a dialogue tag and a beat?
♦ In characterization, can you explain what a “goal,” “motivation,” or “conflict” is?
♦ What back story and flashbacks are?
If these are unfamiliar terms to you, then you need to get yourself some good books on how to write fiction, and you need to learn the craft of fiction writing. You don’t need an editor yet, but you may want to consider a writing coach. There are some good resources about the craft of fiction writing in the Resource section. Or check the Services page for information about coaching.
However, if you have completed a novel or two, or are well on your way toward completing one, and you are starting to feel like you’ve outgrown your critique group, or you’ve started getting some positive attention from editors and agents, then it might be time to consider bringing in a professional.
Part Two discusses Critique groups vs. Professional Editing