Swoon Author Karole Cozzo's Editing Update: A Few Points to Consider
Hey gang! I’m happy to be checking in with the Swoon Reads community today and giving you some updates on my forthcoming fourth novel. Kat B. and I have been hard at work making The Game Can’t Love You Back the best story possible, and I’m so excited to share Eve and Jamie’s story with you in a few weeks!
Certainly, the editing process is very specific to the story involved, but today I’m going to share with you some of the elements we tweaked in the first draft and subsequent drafts of this story. I think these elements are ones we can all be mindful of when writing and revising, so I hope my update is helpful to all you writers out there as you consider improving your own stories.
So here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been working on...
The Big Picture
• Continuity of storylines and characterizations: As the author, I’d thought so much about these characters and their journeys before I’d even opened a Word doc and typed “Chapter 1.” Sometimes, it’s easy to forget what aspects you’ve successfully incorporated into your story and what bits you’ve left out or forgotten to clarify to a reader who doesn’t have all that intricate internal knowledge about it. Kat helpfully pointed out when storylines seemed to disappear, at least temporarily, or when characters behaved in a way she couldn’t make sense of or didn’t seem consistent with their personalities. Then we got to work on tightening these bits up.
• Love and baseball: The two are certainly intertwined in this book, but it was important to strike just the right balance for YA romance readers. We didn’t want the sports aspect of the story to be overwhelming; however, Kat and I were both in agreement that some of the most enjoyable, steamiest moments between Jamie and Eve took place when they were at their post-game, sweatiest best. We gave a lot of thought to how much of their story should take place on the field (or in a locker room, or in a dugout… hint hint) and how much of their story should take place off.
• The protagonist: Eve is one tough cookie, something we definitely wanted to highlight. We talked a lot about moments where Eve could stay most true to herself instead of giving in to peer/social pressure. And I think she ended up all the fiercer for our efforts!
• The secondaries: Kat gave me a lot of great initial impressions of whom she wanted to see more of, whom she felt like she hadn’t seen show up in a while, and ultimately, who might need to be cut. When working in YA, you’re somewhat limited by word count, and as much as we might be tempted to delve into all our secondary characters, sometimes we have to eliminate or condense in the name of a workable final product.
One of the things I love most about working with Kat on edits is her attention to the details. I mean, it’s all in the details, right? Here are some of the particulars we hashed out during revisions.
• Teenspeak: I’m thirty-seven, okay? *shrugs* I have to admit it might not be my forte at this point, even if I spend three days a week in an area high school. Also, Kat helped me get a better sense of dialogue that might look okay in print but not really translate well into dialogue. I mean, it sort of broke my heart to eliminate this freestyle rap battle I was quite proud of, but I get it… it’s really hard to make teens rapping sound as cool on the page as it sounded in my head. Making matters even more complicated, this is my first Swoon novel that’s dual POV! This was super nerve-wracking for me, because I’ve had beta readers make comments in the past that were less than encouraging when it came to male POV (something awful about my guy character sounding like one of the Golden Girls). Trust me… it’s been improved upon.
• Kat asked a lot of questions. Do high school guys actually wear New Balances? (yes, around here they do, anyway); Can you really serve soft pretzels in a theater lobby? (again, yes, around Philly you can; soft pretzels show up in boxes anywhere). She also schooled me, about 72 times in the manuscript, to the fact that it is not a book bag anymore; it’s a backpack. Picking up on these little things means less work down the road in copyedits, and a more authentic read for the intended audience.
And there you have it, folks! I hope you’re as excited as we are for The Game Can’t Love You Back to show up on shelves. In the meantime, I hope you’re excited to return to your WIP and think about how these points for consideration may improve your already fantastic manuscript!