There I was, once again at the mercy of my dentist. It’s not his fault; I have terrible teeth. I got the wrong tooth genes. I’ve become resigned to them. They get problems and need to be fixed.
So while I was there, having maybe had a little bit of gas, I began free-associating, and next thing I knew, I had decided my dentist was my tooth editor.
Bear with me.
They’re my teeth (Manuscript); I grew (wrote) them. I think they are a masterpiece.
I can do the basic work on them—brushing and flossing; anyone can do that. Just like most authors can do the basic line editing on their own work.
But it’s not enough. There are parts of my teeth that I can’t even see. The front looks good, the back must be fine too, right? Authors are often too close to their work to see things like awkward phrasing or missing words. They know what it’s supposed to say and their minds and just fill in with context that the reader won’t have.
My dentist, with his special tools and skills, can see problems I don’t even know to look for.
Editors have special tools and skills, like red pencils and semicolons; editors can see problems or potential problems with a manuscript that authors don’t see. Or an author might not even know could be a problem. Or how to look for these problems.
I need a specialist to find and fill holes, level things, and even just to give my teeth a much more thorough cleanup and polish than I can manage.
Authors need their editors to clean up typos and dangling modifiers, to help point out plot holes, and to generally turn an already fine manuscript into a thoroughly clean and polished masterpiece.
Authors need editors as much as editors need authors. Don’t let beautiful work end up failing for want of good polishing.
And maintain good dental health and see your dentist twice a year.