Three critical critics

My new theory: every writer needs three kinds of editors.

The first is the one who reads every word with deep concentration, hugs the entire manuscript to his/her chest, and declares you a genius. Min and my mom serve well in this capacity, and I can usually bask in their approval for long enough to finish a draft or begin a rewrite.

The second reader — maybe a friend or a fellow writer — will also shower you with praise. Being one step more removed, however, he/she may also point out that the character you named Tom in chapter one actually seems to have changed his name to Tim in chapter three. Or that the character who moved to London later places a telephone call from Paris.

And then there’s the third. The one who is actually paid to be critical. The one your publisher hires to tell you that, contrary to what you may have heard from your mom, you are not actually a genius. The one who writes, in the case of my latest project, “This is stupid” beside your dialogue. Sigh.

It’s unfortunate that this third kind of editor is almost always so completely, annoyingly RIGHT. They are invariably more responsible for the success of a book than I am.

So, I’m off to rewrite the dialogue…

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