Will an editor change my style or characters?

Will an editor change my style or characters?

As I’ve mentioned before, editors can only make suggestions. They cannot change anything unless you allow them to do so. Your story and characters belong to you. Also, no professional editor will call anyone’s work ‘awful’, but if they’re doing their job, they must be honest and point out where things are not working.

The real problem is that writers have no objectivity about their own stories and characters.We can’t tell if our stories make sense or if our characters are unlikeable and unrelatable. We are blind to our own stories, rarely able to translate everything in our heads onto paper. That’s totally fine if you’re writing for yourself. But if you’re serious about publishing, then you do want to have your best efforts out there.

If you have unnecessary characters (with no real purpose), then yes, a dev editor may ask you to cut or conflate them for clarity’s sake. If you have under-developed (flat, unengaging) characters, a dev editor will ask you to deepen them and make them three-dimensional.

If you do not vary sentence lengths, if you have redundantly long sentences, choppy prose or purple prose, then yes, a line editor will change your writing for the better.

Style comes from a lot of writing + reading a lot of well-written books. As Rebecca pointed out, “Bad writing is not a style. Word choice and how a writer structures their prose is part of it.”

You need never worry about style. It is unique and distinctive to each writer, and will appear as if by magic once the basics have been mastered, once you have written a lot for a long time.

I need to address what I suspect is the real issue here. Of course, everyone wants to have the best version of their work out there. Some are even prepared to work hard and learn new things in order to make this happen. But few understand that, often, we need to let go and loosen up in order to get the best possible outcome for our stories.

You may think that your story is complete, when the fact is that stories are dynamic; they grow and deepen the more you work at them, the more you welcome help and input from others. There is magic and synergy at work when we put our efforts and best intentions into each other’s creations.

My best writing is always a collaborative effort between me and my developmental editors. Yes, it was very daunting to be told that my scenes and characters were under-developed, that there were even missing scenes. But guess what? The more I developed my scenes, the more depth I add to my characters, the more I love them. And those missing scenes? They often turn out to be some of the best scenes I’ve ever written.

The right editors for you are out there. You will find and learn to trust yours. Some will take longer to find a good match. Don’t give up. Working closely with editors who know what they're doing is a great way to learn how to write better. Some say it’s a short-cut to better stories. That’s true, but the real value is this -- if you pay attention, you will get a boost in your writing ability. something no-one can take away from you. You will become a better writer.