On Monday, I might have railed against editors. In truth, I do understand that connection is special, if you find the right person. Editing is a tricky process. Every writer’s voice is unique. At least, if you’ve been doing your job properly. That doesn’t mean we are immune to influence. That’s certainly not true.
Everything we read effects the voice of our writing. What I read shows in how I write. When I attending a writer’s meeting a few months ago, an older member noticed that my style echoed classic science fiction stories. That makes sense. Those tales, of Heinline and Asimov are the stores I grew up reading. The nuances of sentence structure and flow are always constructed from what we’re exposed to. In the context of every day life, this plays out in local dialects and ascents. People with an Irish or Japanese ascent didn’t just pick that up because they decided to, it came from hearing and absorbing those patterns, day after day.
Tying this back to the “editing” I got back from Writer’s Digest’s 2nd Draft service, there was one interesting thing. A few paragraphs the editor did not were not grammatically improper, while still worth looking over. In the comments section of the edit, he made a couple of suggestions of how to correct the oddity. What makes this noteworthy (and I’m sorry I don’t still have a copy hanging around from a few months ago) is that despite the grammatical suggestions saying the exact same thing as in practice, the paragraph sounded completely different.
For something which I had thought immutable, like the rules of grammar and punctuation, change the tone of the piece. Some might think, “of course” but is strange to see in action. That’s something I don’t normally consider when I’m reading a story. Because the book is published, unless there are serious flaws (I’m looking at Twilight here) I don’t go around wondering how I would edit the story.
The Sixfold competition was a competition where I have to edit a story. That’s a conundrum, sometimes. When I put my editors hat on, I have to keep my own voice hidden. That is, while trying to search for weaknesses in the story, grammatical errors, I have to stop from changing or challenging thoughts and pacing of the author I’m editing for. I can’t let my own preferences override that persons voice.
My voice should always be my own. Any writers voice should be. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember that. But, when I’m editing, that sense and feeling falls into place. Even with the lack of technical skills in grammar, I’ve learned to trust that sense and my own writing voice.