I do, and I wish sometimes I could turn off my editing instinct.
For instance, last week I reread Pride and Prejudice. Everything was fine until I reached chapter 10. There, the heroine, Elizabeth, is sparring verbally with Mr. Darcy, a stranger to whom she has taken a dislike, when the author reveals that “Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her.”
Now, had I been Jane Austen’s editor, I would have told her to leave out this line and all future lines alluding to Mr. Darcy’s falling in love with Elizabeth Bennett. Instead, let us, the readers, discover that Darcy is in love with Elizabeth the same way Elizabeth does, with his abrupt proposal of marriage. To Elizabeth, this proposal comes out of nowhere, but not to us. Since we, the readers, are identifying with Elizabeth as we read, let us feel the same profound shock she does at this startling announcement.
Another book I edit as I read is War and Peace. Near its end, two of the main characters, Pierre and Natasha, meet up again after years separated by the Napoleonic Wars. That is where the book should end (spoiler alert) with them falling in love. Tolstoy should not have included the anticlimatical scene which occurs several years past that time.
Even Shakespeare doesn’t get a pass with me. Every time I reread Romeo and Juliet, I find Mercutio more fascinating than Romeo. But what does Shakespeare do? He kills off Mercutio in Act III. Ugg! What Shakespeare should have done was to recognize that he had created a mesmerizing minor character and made him the major character. He should have rewritten the play to have the man-of-the-world, Mercutio, fall for innocent Juliet. What a contrast!
But alas, Austen, Tolstoy and Shakespeare didn’t consult with me.