I’ve recently seen some comments about editors upset that writers have used their reworked suggestions in the finished stories, and if I was reading one of those “Am I The A-hole” pages it would be an Everyone Sucks Here answer. I’m going to go at it from both a developmental editor and receiver of line editing standpoint.
1- As an editor I am very careful about offering direct suggested rewrites, NOT because I think ‘OmG sOmEoNe iS gOiNg To StEaL mY wOrDs’ but because I don’t want to force my words on a writer. When I’m working with new writers, I will (almost) never offer any kind of rewrite. My voice is not theirs, is not their characters, is not their style, etc. I will offer plenty of ideas and directions to go in, but I don’t want to trample on their style, especially when they may be just finding it. With writers who have a distinct style, I may add rewrites with the note “but better, or but in your voice (etc)” to remind them to make it theirs, or at least make sure it fits. If it works for their story, I don’t care one bit if they take it as-is. It’s my job to help, they are paying for it, those words are part of the deal.
2- As a writer getting edits, I get those suggestions. I interact with them much as I do as an editor. I have to turn it into my own style to fit the voice of the story. But, sometimes that rewrite is already perfect, and yes, I will totally use it. I think the issue that started the initial post I saw was that they were short stories, and it’s unclear how much input the editor gave that was taken as-is. Yes, there is room to argue that if too much was substituted in, who really wrote that story? But, I don’t think we can blame a new writer when someone they perceive as being experienced (in both writing and the editing process) comes in and says ‘write this’ and then doing so. You have to work out a relationship with your editor, it’s not just a hand-off. They are an important part of your team, and you need to understand each other.
So, should you take words directly from your editor? ...maybe. If it’s a lot of words, you could verify they think it’s alright. Double check that the new line feels like it is your voice. Does it fit within your world? When working with an editor for the first time, ask questions! Pay attention and learn about the process and get all you can from it. Be a good student, be thoughtful, and be serious about your work. Don’t blow it by being an A-hole.
Should an editor give direct rewrite ideas? ...maybe. Will you be upset if you see that line used as-is? Are you offering so much ‘help’ that you are bulldozing their voice, or is it just a helpful snippet? Do they know enough to know the difference? When you are editing for someone, YOU are the professional in the equation. Assume every client that you haven’t worked with before is a total newbie (but don’t be condescending). Be helpful, but also kind. Take a moment to understand where they are in their writing journey and show them what it means to be edited—every interaction they have with you is a teaching moment. Don’t blow it by being an A-hole.