• Julie Gray

The Editor's Oath

There are many types of editors. I am an old school editor, a story and developmental editor, like my hero, Max Perkins. That means I leverage my skills and experience with the art and craft of writing, my knowledge of both the film and book publishing marketplaces, and perhaps most importantly, how to work with writers to get the very best from them.

As such, I am not a reviewer who lines out your words, or scolds your choices. I do not insert myself into your story. Your story is a sacred thing because it came from you. I have only two loyalties: first, to the story, second to you, the writer of the story. I take that very seriously. I am honest but I am respectful. I am a writer myself, so I know how very hard writing is. I never forget the effort you have made, the hours you have committed and the keen vulnerability it is to be a writer at all. I do not pull my punches though; if you can do better, I'll let you know. It's a rough world out there for writers, and I don't want you to be unprepared for that. I know when you've given your best, and I know when you can do better. If I push you to make a change, and you push me back, with a great reason for your choice, that is well thought out and makes creative sense, then you win that one. You are my boss - but I have your back and I get to know your limitations as well as your strengths. It is a close working relationship.

Beta readers or family and friends who read and give you feedback are valuable, for sure. It's important to know how Joe Average reacts to your story. But the difference between an editor and a beta reader is that an editor takes the higher view; notes are not subjective but rather, based on the tenets of good writing, full stop. It's not just my opinion, in other words, editing and story analysis is a skill that takes years to get good at. An editor can spot whether something is problematic not on a subjective level, but on an objective level, and further, an editor helps you think your way out of it with concrete suggestions and ideas.

The oath that I take very seriously is that an editor should never insert him or herself into your story. That is a terrible trespass and breach of trust as well as ethics. It's your story, and the editor's job is to make your story, as told by you, the best version of itself that is possible. No more. No less.