Numerous instructors of writing share the same advice when it comes to editing: resist the urge to edit while you write! Just get your ideas out, flesh them out, and worry about the fine points of editing later. But despite the numerous voices in your head and from those around you pleading for you to resist the temptation, is this really the best advice in any and every situation?
The editor must help the author express their art as truly as they can while balancing the vision of the publisher, and by extension bring the truth of the community back in the form of a published work. And, like any intimate relationship, it is not always easy, nor quick and painless.
What tone to use when writing a letter to an author or making queries on their manuscript is often one of the most crucial yet most challenging parts of an editor’s job. There are many factors to consider: Where are you at in the editing process? Are you speaking to the author directly, or are you addressing a senior editor? Is this the author’s first novel, or are they more experienced? With so many factors to juggle and so many tiny nuances, it’s no surprise that this is the area that trips up most novice (and sometimes more senior) editors.