Editing for Creative Writing

Creativity is a gift. And a curse. Creative editors help writers make the most of their spark.

Questions I ask writers

What makes a creative writer, creative? What can we really call “creative” these days?

Are you avant garde? Would you want to be? Should you experiment with form, substance, and format? Should you talk to your editor about pushing boundaries? Why?

What makes a fiction editor different from a nonfiction editor? What makes someone more or less helpful with “creative” writing? Why should you look for an editor who suits your style, your voice, and your unique stories?

How do you self-edit for creativity?

Editing for Creativity

True, I haven’t known every creative writer in the world, but I’ve known a few. In my experience, they tend to be passionate, driven people, who can become emotionally involved with their work. No writer who prides themselves on creativity wants to hear negative feedback from an editor, but if presented the right way, any feedback can truly help the writer thrive.

Reader Experience

One of the duties of an editor is to make sure the writer doesn’t look foolish, cliche, or trite. Especially if the writer is seeking to push into experimental formatting, narrative structure, or media delivery. An editor should be supportive of a writer’s vision and message, while also helping the writer make sure the connection to the readers is solid.

A creative writer may assume that their ideal reader will “get” what they’re doing, immediately and without explanation. An editor should help make the writer’s work easy for the reader to “get.” So during the editing phase, the editor needs to be particularly aware of how to enhance the readers’ experience and understanding of the text.

Perhaps the writer can add references or clarify terms in the opening statements. Maybe the text needs stronger or more nuanced language to clarify a context or theme. Whatever it is, an editor should be able to help the writer spot the need and supply potential approaches to including the new information or wording.

Word Choice

Editors for creative fiction may need to be particularly sensitive to word choice, including things like appropriate descriptive language of scenes and characters, consistency of descriptions and characteristics, and strength of verbs used to impart action or a sense of urgency, when needed for a pacing pick-up.

A basic editor will grammatically correct a sentence. A creative editor will unlock something in the restructuring.

Creative Paint

Its like refurbishing an historic home. The layers underneath are gorgeous, if not looking their best. The editor designs the new look of the text, fixes and patches any broken areas, and thinks of ways to bring new life to the existing building, while completing the look and livability for the readers who will sit down and live inside those pages.

A creative editor may help you put on the final decorative touches, once you’re ready to put your book on the market.

Creative writing deserves creative editing.

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