Your Voice, Not Mine: One Editor’s Approach to Dialogue

One thing I work on with my clients is the voice of their characters. It's important to maintain the voice of the character throughout the editing process; that's why I try not to interfere with the dialogue in the manuscript unless I'm editing for clarity. By that I mean, sometimes authors will write phonetically when the characters are speaking and, depending on the audience, that can be challenging for the reader. My approach is to clean up dialogue to the extent that it helps the reader understand what the characters are saying but to do so without changing the general flow, cadence, and rhythm of the characters' speech.

The most important part of the editing process to me is working with you to make sure the story flows, the timelines are right, and the plot is good. In urban novels, in particular, it's easy to get distracted by dialogue that is difficult to understand. We often have great stories that are not being well articulated. My job as an editor is not to change your story. My job is not to change the characters' fundamental behavior, speech, appearance, or attitude. My job is to help you express yourself in the most effective way possible. It doesn't matter if your goal is to entertain, persuade, or educate. Ultimately, the purpose is the same: to express yourself, to share your story, and to be remembered.

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