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Love of Language, Part 3: The Book Coach/Editor as Translator

The Book Coach/Editor as Translator

I know the idea of a Book Coach/Editor as translator may seem odd. Typically translators translate one language into another. But in this instance, what I am referring to is the way in which a Book Coach or Editor helps a writer translate the story inside their head and heart onto the page using language that makes it accessible to readers.

TBH–we are translating language all the time, whether it’s the words we see, read, or hear. But language is nuanced in many ways, from word choice, to sentence structure, to the way we twist the commonplace into fresh meaning. When you add in the reader lens through which written language is transferred/consumed, access and understanding include multiple layers of translation.


How I Got Here

My ability to help writers with the transference process and helping ensure their ideas are translated into accessible text on the page goes back a long way.

When I was quite young, I discovered I had a special talent for interpreting what people were saying in a way that helped them to understand one another. This was apparent on numerous occasions, including when individuals were not really hearing and connecting the intent behind one another’s words.

Intent is a critical component in our ability to convey information from our brains and hearts to others. But the words we use are the vehicle for transferring that information in an accessible way. The words we use to transmit our thoughts, feelings and ideas matter as much or more than intention, for without them, the receiver has no way of hearing and truly understanding us.

My love of language and ability to hear and interpret the intent and meaning behind the words of others led me to where I am today, a Book Coach/Editor who works hard to help writers translate their ideas into words and weave them into stories that shine.


An Objective Eye

In my role as a Book Coach and Editor, I use my skills as an educated reader and interpreter/translator to identify where the writer’s work is communicating as intended, or not. To identify continuity issues, the places where a newer version of the story still contains leftover bits of an earlier version that no longer mesh with or support what is taking place in the current revision.

It’s not uncommon for writers to think what’s in our heads and hearts is on the page when it isn’t. This is because the story resides inside us. It becomes a part of us. We know our world, our characters, so well, we forget that readers may need a bit more. Or, we are so excited to share, we dump everything out, spilling it onto the page in a tsunami-like wave of information. Or, we have revised so many aspects that we’re not always certain which small things belong in the version we are telling.

When these things happen, it helps to have someone who can stand back from the act of creation, the world we have built inside our heads, and help us to see what’s missing and where we have given too much for the poor reader to manage. Someone who can see the gap between what we know and what the reader needs to understand. Someone who can help us translate the story into manageable and meaningful bits for our target audience.

A good Book Coach/Editor can do just that. We can hold the story that is on the page up to the light and not blur it with our own intention. We can call out those places that need more emotion, character development, worldbuilding, etc., or help the writer see where to pull back, to provide the story in a way that is meaningful and accessible without being overwhelming.


Shining an Editorial Light

By standing outside the creative sphere, we can see the story through an editorial lens and provide an objective review of the story and related craft elements. Additionally, by reading as an educated reader a good Book Coach or Editor will identify and shine a light on any inconsistencies, stumbling blocks and missing elements.

Book Coaches and Editors bring a wealth of knowledge, tools and training to bear in identifying the gaps and misalignments between the author’s intent (the story inside their head/heart) and the words on the page. We can then help the writer translate that into a story version that achieves their vision and resonates with readers.

Acting in the role of a Book Coach/Editor as translator, helping writers bring their stories to life, is joyful and fulfilling work that continues to nurture my love of language.


For more information on Book Coaching, check put my FAQ page.

If you’re interested in what I write, check out my Author site.

And if you write, or want to write children’s books, give my Coaching KidLit podcast a listen.

Published inBook CoachingReading Like an Editor