Friday, August 27, 2021

Editors (and Dentists) Are Not the Enemy

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

I’ve been a dental hygienist most of my life. For 37 years, to be exact. As a dental professional, I’ve heard every dental joke out there. Dental slurs find their way into books, articles, and conversation, and I try hard not to take offense.

“That was about as fun as a root canal.”

“It felt about as good as a toothache.”

“It’s as simple as having your wisdom teeth cut out” (usually accompanied by a maniacal laugh).

Thankfully, most dental patients understand that the dental hygienist (me) and the dentist (him) are separate people with different roles. Sometimes they call me the good guy and him the bad guy.

Truth be told, we’re on the same team. Our mutual goal is to care for our patients with a minimum of discomfort (We never say the word pain) and help them have healthy teeth all their lives. 

Unfortunately, sometimes we must cause pain (oops discomfort) in the short term to facilitate health in the long term.

We remove a dead nerve to cure an abscessed tooth infection. We extract an impacted wisdom tooth to treat pericoronitis. We perform a deep cleaning to combat gum disease.

Sometimes our patients know their mouth is sick. Other times they have no idea. Because we have studied everything there is to know about teeth, we can spot a decayed premolar a mile away and take action to restore it to health.

We also deal with non-disease issues. Crooked teeth. Stained teeth. Dark teeth. Misshapen teeth. Some children have Dad’s teeth in Mom’s bone structure. Or Mom’s teeth in Dad’s bone structure. Some people are missing teeth and others have too many (can you say supernumerary?).

Dental professionals love nothing more than a happy patient with a healthy, beautiful smile. We want to help them put their best faces forward so they can dazzle friends, family, and strangers with their pearly whites. We’ve dedicated our lives to this cause.

Dental professionals are not the enemy, I promise.

But what does this soliloquy have to do with editors? Besides the fact that when I’m not sloshing around in people’s saliva, I work as an author and a freelance editor?

A lot. Dare I say editors are a lot like dental personnel?

And editor’s goal is never, ever to hurt our clients or our clients’ work. Contrary to popular belief, we want to cause our clients a minimum amount of discomfort and help them have the healthiest manuscript/short story/article possible.

Unfortunately, sometimes we must cause pain in the short term to accomplish health in the long term.

We remove a dead subplot to cure an abscessed story line. We extract an impacted character to cure flat-character-itis. We perform a deep cleaning to cure Adverb and Adjective disease.

Sometimes our patients know their manuscript is sick. Other times they have no idea. Because we’ve studied everything there is to know about POV, style, and pacing, we can spot a decaying scene a mile away and take action to restore it to health.

We also deal with non-disease manuscript issues. Crooked logic. Stained subject matter. Dark themes. Misshapen motives. Some story lines have historical romance squeezed into a non-fiction story structure. Or memoir stretched over an autobiographical framework. Some stories are missing vital segments while others boast fifteen chapters when ten will do. 

Editors love nothing more than happy clients with well-written, beautiful manuscripts/stories/articles. We want to help you put your best publishing foot forward so you can dazzle publishers and readers alike. We’ve dedicated our life to this cause.

Editors are not the enemy, I promise.


Lori Hatcher loves God even more than she loves chocolate—and that’s a lot. Since He saved her at age 18, she’s been on a relentless journey to know and love Him more. Her deepest desire is for others to join her on the journey. As an author, blogger, writing instructor, women’s ministry speaker, and career dental hygienist, she writes for Our Daily Bread, Guideposts, Revive Our Hearts, and She’s written three devotional books, including Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible, and Hungry for God…Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. Her latest book, Refresh Your Prayers, Uncommon Devotions to Restore Power and Praise releases March 1, 2022. Connect with her at or on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or Pinterest (Hungry for God).


  1. Lori,

    What a fascinating comparison of dentists and editors. It was a fresh way of saying some important information that I'd never seen before. Thank you for these insights.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

    1. Thank you, Terry. I had fun blending my two careers in this post. God’s blessings to you today!

  2. Lori, you gave us a vivid picture (or x-ray in “dentalese”) of an editor’s work, as well as an example of excellent writing. Thank you for entertainment and valuable instruction.

    1. Many thanks, friend. The next time you need a writing check up, I hope you'll open your manuscript wide and say, "Ahhhhh!"

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Edwina. I had fun blending my two careers for this comparison :)

  4. My hubby is a dentist. What a great analogy! Such good thoughts--thanks for sharing!

    1. Ahhh, Crystal, then you know what it's like to live with a spouse who gets down in the mouth regularly. God's blessings to you!

  5. What a great metaphor for the editing process! Loved reading this.

  6. I love your well thought out comparison Lori. I think I’d like you caring for my teeth and my manuscript! Trust is important in both. 😊