References to “video display units” notwithstanding, many of Plotnik’s essays on editing remain as compelling today as they were thirty years ago. “The editor, not the author, best understands the readership,” he says. “Authors know their subject. Editors specialize in knowing the audience” (page 25).
What’s a good analogy about writers and editors without a reference to fire?
“Communication,” I recently told a class of writers, “is your reason for being—not nourishment of ego, not praise of colleagues, not money, not love of generations to come. You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you—
“And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”Plotnik, The Elements of Editing, page 31
Drama aside, I love this.