Ann Bolch believes maintaining the writer’s voice is essential during the editing process

Many writers fear that the editing process will compromise their voice. That is, that the way they put words together to form sentences, the way they convey emotions, the way they bring thoughts to the page, will change forever.

Yes, it will change forever. For the better. So long as you find a good editor committed to maintaining the writer’s voice.

An effective editor respects the author’s approach and style while at the same time offering suggestions to strengthen their approach and style. Although sometimes strongly expressed, suggestions are always and only that – suggestions. Part of the fun comes from the author and editor learning more about the work through discussing the author’s intentions and whether they are being achieved.

Questions for authors to check if editorial suggestions are relevant to their story include:

  1. Has the editor explained to you why they’re suggesting the change?
  2. Does the suggestion make sense?
  3. Will the change detract from your story at all?

Effective editors should be able to articulate the need for the change while at the same time listening to any insight from the author that might change their opinion. After an author has worked on several drafts, they usually know their work inside out. But sometimes writers are ‘too close’ to the story, which stops them identifying obstructions to clarity or flow or voice.

An effective editor provides this service to their clients. We understand that writers have something to say and we help them say it the best way they can.

As Danielle La Porte says, ‘Your voice is your art.’ You gotta respect that.

May your words pour onto the page,

Ann Bolch

 

 

An example of strengthening an author’s voice by paring back the prose:

BEFORE:

The man was on his back. His head bounced against the concrete as it was pounded fist by fist into a bloodied pulp. I was on top of him at one point. Then I watched from my knees. There was an awful lot of blood, so much blood…. Beyond the puddles of blood, the milk bottle was smashed to pieces, milk dripping into the gutter.

The next thing I remember my face was pushed onto the hood of a car. Red and blue lights. Loud talking. Cuffs.

I had planned to stroll with Kayla to the same spot on the beach where I first fell for her. I had looked forward to a day of incredible sex, lying in bed with Kayla, being home: nothing more on our mixed-up anniversary.

I would never make it back that day, and Kayla and I would never spend another moment in our apartment together.

AFTER:

The man was on his back. His head bounced against the concrete as it was pounded fist by fist into a bloodied pulp. At one point I was on top of him. Then I watched from my knees. There was a lot of blood. So much blood. Beyond the puddles of blood, the milk bottle was smashed to pieces, milk dripping into the gutter.

The next thing I remember my face was pushed onto the hood of a car. Red and blue lights. Loud talking. Cuffs.

Thanks to Tommy Cotton, author, Just Went Out For Milk.

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