So said the mystic sage Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977).
This applies to your writing just as much as any real-life situation. In real life, your instincts can either save you from a bad situation or encourage you to take a leap of faith.
When it comes to your writing, only you as the writer can know if a particular scene needs to stay, even if you aren’t able to articulate why. Trusting that scene’s place in your story is very important. Your job as a writer, then, is to find and tease out the threads that will ultimately reward that instinct and faith.
Sometimes, those reasons will come up easily. Many times, it will require walking away from the project for awhile, allowing it to percolate in the back of your mind. And other times, it may require a creative project in a different medium to distract that focus long enough to allow the ideas to flow through you.
Once you find those little connections between that scene and the rest of your story, it’s just a matter of threading them into the body of your work. It will be time-consuming and more often than not a little frustrating, but the end result will be worth it.
The above statement (and title of this post) is the most succinct and to the point sentence that Polonius utters during a long-winded speech to King Claudius in the play, Hamlet. Whether it’s a novel, a short story, a blog post, or even an author biography for your website, a good editor will help to keep your work tight and effective.
So, keeping that in mind, I’ll be brief.
The first draft is to just write – to tell yourself the story, have fun and get everything you want to say out. This is where you get be extravagant with words, to be as playful and as wordy as you want as you explore what you want to tell.
The second draft is to shape the piece so that it aligns with your vision. Sometimes this means adding new pieces or moving existing ones around until they fit.
The third draft (and every draft thereafter) is to hone it down to its bare essence, so that what you want to say comes through succinctly. This is where you simplify your language to invite your readers in.
In short, murder your darlings, dear writer. Cut the excessive wordage out and simplify.
Sometimes, the hardest part about being a writer is letting go of your manuscript and sending it out to an editor.
The world you’d created, breathed life into and fleshed out with characters might not be viewed in the same way as you view it. Neither will Person A read it the same way as Person B. It can be very nerve-wracking to share one’s writing with a close friend or a relative, let alone having an editor look it over.
It can also be frustrating if you and the editor do not have compatibility in working together or have extreme ideas about your work. If this happens, do not be afraid to thank the editor, pay them for their time and seek out someone else.  It is in the best interest of your writing that you find an editor with whom you can communicate, learn from their notes and enjoy a working professional relationship with. 
Handing one’s work over to an editor requires a few things on the part of the writer:
vulnerability (to allow one’s work be criticized);
courage (to accept that one’s work might not be everyone’s cup of tea);
a willingness to work (by way of notes from the editor);
patience (because each work, writer and editor have different styles and needs).
As a writer myself, I understand how difficult it is to allow another set of eyes to read your work and form an opinion that might not always be flattering. It is nerve-wracking, unsettling and you live on pins and needles until you get your manuscript back with notes. And when the initial shock is over and you get back to work, using those notes as a guide, you discover that what was good can be made better.
 It has been my experience that editors will generally have a minimum number of hours that they’re willing to work. This is helpful as you search for one that you can work well with.
 You can always learn from an editor you like and work well with, but don’t throw out what was gained from the editor you didn’t work well with. You may find, after some time has passed, that their thoughts were right on the money, though not perhaps not phrased in a way that you were willing to hear.
As a writer, it’s important to me to create the best possible work I can. In order to do that, I need an objective pair of eyes to comb through the manuscript, picking out character agency, weak plot points, and grammar. There are methods for doing this yourself, but I don’t recommend it, as you may overlook details (or lack thereof) that someone else will find.
Whether it’s a novel, a script or a short story, every writer will create a not-so-great first draft. In order to shape it into something better, a writer then turns to an editor for assistance. In some cases, an editor can help with a story that has stalled out half way through.
When I was working on my current novel, I stalled out in the middle. I’d already cannibalized a short story into the novel, which gave it layers I hadn’t expected. However, I had no sense of what was going to happen next. There were a couple of scenes written out, but I had no idea of where to put them, and no clear, definitive, final wrap-up to the story.
I was stuck, in the truest sense of the word. I needed help. So I found an editor who helped to jump-start a new direction for the Narrator and the story itself. In two five-hour editing sessions, I had gotten past the block and found myself at the story’s end.
How did this happen? I set aside my ego and listened to what my editor had to say. There were points I didn’t necessarily agree with, which pushed me to find a way to make those points work within the story. If I was successful, they stayed in – if not, I ultimately took them out. It was a difficult thing to do, excising portions of my novel (particularly if it was a character I liked), but that’s what the sequel is for. 
Ultimately, as a writer, if I want my work to improve, I need to pay attention to my editor, who also acts as my mentor. The relationship between an editor and a writer is symbiotic – when the two click, the work is a joy (even if it’s still frustrating). When it doesn’t, thank the editor for their time and effort and look for someone with whom you can develop a long, professional relationship with.
Every experience with an editor, even one that doesn’t work out, is a positive one – it helps you focus on your work, your voice and your goal.
That goal? To hone your craft and create your best work.
 The character in question went through nine name changes and switched nationalities – if he hadn’t been so endearing, I’d have written him off long ago.
Earlier this year, in a conversation I had with a potential client, we were discussing the details of what they were expecting from me regarding their manuscript. When it was indicated that they were planning to self-publish their novel, I asked about the time frame and was startled to hear them say six weeks from our initial consult. They also indicated that editing was the last thing needed before they went forward with it.
This raised several red flags for me, but I’m only going to take the time to discuss two of them, as they are pertinent to editing.
First, that they wanted to publish it within six weeks of the initial consult. This makes the editor’s job harder to do. Why? Because editing is a process – the editor combs through the manuscript, making notes for the writer to help create a stronger piece. Then the manuscript is sent back to the writer, who needs to go through and incorporate the notes given. This process occurs multiple times, until the editor deems it polished and ready to send out.
Creating a tight deadline of six weeks is only setting up everyone involved for failure and that was the second red flag. This puts stress on the editor, who is working hard to give clear and concise notes on what can be improved. It also puts stress on the writer, who may begin to feel resentment towards the editor. This can cause relations between the two to grow tense and unprofessional, a situation that is undesirable. A deadline is good to have, as long as it is realistic and achievable, but it helps to be flexible.
Going back to my potential client, I was able to convey the problems with this, offered a few suggestions in the meantime and, with respect, had to turn it down. Will they come back to me later on, with a more reasonable deadline? Maybe. I’d like to think so, since I was able to give them something to work with.
In the end, I had to go with being honest and respectful of their work and my time. I’d rather lose work that way than create a hostile situation where no one wins.