In praise of editors

By Linda Brinson

What an interesting feature on National Public Radio this week:

It seems that even though Jane Austen’s brother Henry said that “Everything came finished from her pen,” the great writer really did need an editor.

Recent research shows that Austen’s writing needed quite a bit of work before it became the elegant, polished prose so many of us admire.

Think of great editors of the past such as Maxwell Perkins, who did so much for authors such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Thomas Wolfe’s writings would have been unreadable without Perkins’ skilled editing.

Today, far too many novels are published without the benefit of such editing. Even the best writers need an editor. I don’t know how often I’ve found so many errors in a novel I was reading — supposedly for enjoyment — that I had to grab a pen and start editing.

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