Editing The Pond People


It’s been a while since I wrote The Pond People. It began as a short story which was edited to death to send out for a competition. After extending the story it was sidelined for something else and hadn’t been edited beyond the first draft. Posting it as a blog serial has made me get on with it and resulted in more detailed edits than it would otherwise have received.

The Process

Length of post: I was concerned that the chapters as they stood would be too long to keep blog browsers’ interest. I’m sure we all dash through our emails, sorting which should be read now, which kept for later and which deleted. Sometimes those kept for later never get to the reading stage.

So I rearranged ‘chapters’ to make each episode easy to dash through. This may have left the parts too short to interest anyone.

A side-effect of my chapter rearrangement was my attempts to find a minor hook to end each blog post. I’m sure we’ve all read writing advice about leaving each scene on a hook of some kind, but this exercise drove the reality of that home to me.

Plot editing (not): I should have paused for an overview, and been more prepared to rewrite from scratch. Instead, I started at the beginning, which set me on the production line path and, other than swapping a couple of chapters, little has changed substantially.

One change I later thought of would have benefited from foreshadowing in episodes I had already posted, so I will need to look again before I self-publish as a book. (I know – I should have kept better notes. . . or, at least, notes I could find later.)

Copy editing: Once each section was re-edited as a blog draft, I searched for pictures before a ‘final’ readthrough and, in the process, always found fresh edits.

This is a benefit of leaving a longer time lag between edits, but I also found that reading it as a blog Preview gave it a different ‘voice’ from either the word processor or Gutenberg blog editor. Writing somehow reads differently when presented in a slightly different format – browser, kindle, hard copy. . . Even simple typos become more noticeable (although it may be that I had introduced said typos on earlier edits).

I have yet to preview anything on WordPress that was ready to publish first time of previewing.

Scheduling: when happy with my episode (or fed up with it) I scheduled it for publication – which is the subject of an earlier post. (That wasn’t to say it might not get changed again between scheduling and publication.)

What next?

I’ve decided I’ll self-publish Pond People as e-book and paperback if I can find an illustrator. I have in mind one of my grandsons after an inspired suggestion from John Spiers – thank you John. (While reading said grandson the first paragraphs of the story last weekend, I noticed another edit. Reading aloud is a good editing tool, but nothing beats reading aloud to someone else.)

Before publishing, I will try to step back in order to view the bigger picture – what the gurus term developmental editing. (I know, I know… I should have done that first.)

The Pond People started as a short story – The Mirlings and the Cat – which I’m sure shows. The only addition I’ve made so far to try and join up the parts is the early introduction of Walter, Sylva and Amber, who weren’t in the short story. No doubt there’s more I should look at; I haven’t got my head around ‘developmental editing’ yet.

This exercise has been a learning curve.

  • I’ve benefitted from having a deadline. In my working life I always met deadlines but I must have picked up the virus of procrastination from my husband since retirement has thrown us together more often.
  • I’ve learned the value of editing in smaller blocks than I usually do, instead of trying to deal with whole chapters (and skipping chunks).
  • It concentrates the mind when I know someone will actually be reading the work imminently.
  • Developmental editing will be a whole new learning curve (and may significantly delay publication).

Which brings me to my next request.

I am grateful for any feedback anybody is honest enough to offer:

  • typos,
  • storylines,
  • continuity boo-boos,
  • boring bits,
  • spelling,
  • fishkeeping inaccuracies (it’s a long while since I kept fish tanks),
  • punctuation,
  • style,
  • grammar,
  • length of episode (for the next blog-story – I’m reinstating the original chapter lengths before publishing),
  • things that just don’t feel right. . .
  • anything at all.

There will be stuff I haven’t thought of and stuff I haven’t noticed. I can’t afford editors and proofreaders, so I’m grateful to anyone who will offer such insights for free.

You are, after all, the readers. And writers write for readers.

And another request (demanding aren’t I?)

Shall I call it The Mirlings or The Pond People? (with or without the The?) Or something else entirely? I’m not good at names.

Pond People does kind of explain what it’s about, while Mirlings offers no clue to what the critters might be. (The Borrowers did at least give some clue to the nature of the little people.) On the other hand, might The Pond People sound as if I’m hanging on the coat-tails of The Carpet People?

fish on pond floor

Over to you.

All suggestions gratefully considered.

9 thoughts on “Editing The Pond People

  1. I loved reading about your editing process; it’s nice to get an insider’s look at how a book gets created. As for the title, I like The Pond People; at least it gives some sense of what the book is about and creates some intrigue… Good luck with the next stage of editing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how you looked back at your process. I have found that preparing a section for the blog has helped motivate me to finish a book/story as well. I’ve also found it helps me focus more on editing, rewriting, etc., but I also do all that again before final publication. If I didn’t share my stories on my blog I’d probably never finish them, to be honest. I take all the advice or comments and use them for the rewrites and try not to be offended when I get negative comments. The one comment that bugged me one time was just “This chapter was too long…” with no explanation or really any other comment about it. It seemed to be just someone annoyed and wanted to tell me they were annoyed. It wasn’t helpful and I proceeded to ignore any comments this person left after that. I like the name The Pond People, I don’t know why. It seems sort of mystical to me, much like the story. I can’t wait to see the finished product since I already enjoyed the story so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your encouragement. This one was hanging around so long waiting for me to pick it up again, I decided it at least deserved to see the light of day in a blog. I’m not working my way through the e-book version transferring it to paperback template (and, of course, changing some of it along the way).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the mention, and I do hope your grandson will consider being your illustrator. I like “The Mirlings” as the title. It sounds intriguing to my ear and almost magical in a way (similar to Merlin the wizard). I think readers would anticipate more with this title. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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