Editors accommodate their responsibilities via a constant juggling act. Material has to survive the sternest test of all: the reader. Hence, we do look at things with greater introspection than some writers would like. Especially since every author believes that his or her respective material is top-notch to begin with!
In truth, the real work begins when the editor receives the draft. But for the writer and not the editor. It’s now that the author of GONE WITH THE WIND just gets started. No matter the quality of the edited draft, an agent will likely suggest changes. Then, most assuredly, the publisher will demand revisions prior to publication.
The modifications can be substantial, and an entire thread often requires altering. This often entails touching virtually the entire narrative. A writer might have to upscale or downgrade a character. This generally requires an extensive modification in the design of that character’s dialogue. This can even affect the dialogue exchanges between characters. Yes, the search for perfection can be exhausting and frustrating and seemingly never-ending.
Publishers are looking for what they believe creates the best market appeal. A major consideration involves a work’s “reach.” If a Thriller is written around hijacking an oil tanker, even though CAPTAIN PHILLIPS was a hit movie, the author shouldn’t be surprised if asked to change this major plot element to the hijacking of a drug shipment.
Something like this happened to a chap I know who’s had a lot of success writing Police Thrillers. It’s the nature of the beast, so any writer who says (as I did once–foolishly), “I’m not doing any more revising,” had better keep his or her day job. If editors don’t look in every nook and cranny, what good are we? My position is that a writer can never receive too much information from an editor.