I’m glad you asked.
The mission of any good editor is simple: to help make a writer’s work more persuasive, more entertaining, more comprehensive, more memorable, and more impactful. Even the most talented writers benefit from a critical eye with no stake in the process other than wanting to help the author improve her work and make it as strong as possible. I will read for clarity, structure, transitions, style, language, voice, detail, depth, and humor (if the piece is meant to be funny — and even if it’s not, actually).
This often involves a talent for ventriloquism whereby the editor sinks into the work enough to understand the writer’s voice and style, then strives to amplify its strengths and bolster its weaker aspects — basically, the editor pushes the piece closer to what it wants to be (which isn’t always immediately clear to the writer).
I’m a writer, too, and I’ve worked with many editors over the years. Some had a better bedside manner than others, but all had the same goal: to make my pieces clearer and more persuasive to the reader, who is ultimately the one we’re all trying to please. In my writing, I have made a point to be as versatile as possible — You want a Q&A? Yep. Cover feature? Sure thing. A ghostwritten column? Hit me. An opinion piece? On it. A crossword puzzle? Why not? — and I bring the same approach to my editing work. Whatever it is, show me what you’re trying to do and I’ll help you do it.
I’m full-service, which means I will tackle copyediting corrections (punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc.) along the way — I’m a tad OCD, which can occasionally be irritating, so I may as well monetize it.
I work in Microsoft Word using the Track Changes feature, which allows the writer to see every comment and correction I suggest. She is then free to accept or reject (or discuss with me further) every potential change in the piece.
The bottom line: Everything can be improved, and the process can be a tremendously satisfying collaboration if approached in the right positive spirit by everyone involved. So, let’s get to it…