Swoon Author Katy Upperman's Editing Update: Digging Deeper
In the Kissing Max Holden editing update I shared back in October of 2016 (um, how has time flown by so quickly?!) I talked about how I enjoyed revising so much more than drafting and, unsurprisingly, the same has proven true for The Impossibility of Us.
Give me an edit letter and a red pen over a blank document any day!
Because I fast-drafted most of The Impossibility of Us during National Novel Writing Month (if you’ve never NaNo-ed, I urge you to try it!), the manuscript required a lot of revising even before the Swoon Team saw it—mostly plot development, structural issues, and strengthening character arcs.
Once my brilliant editor Kat Brzozowski read the story and provided notes, though, I really had to dig deep. There were all of the usual elements of fiction to consider—goal, motivation, conflict, voice, pacing, descriptions, etc.—but because The Impossibility of Us is a story that includes a multicultural, interfaith romance between its protagonists, Elise and Mati, there were some unique issues to take into consideration, too.
Portraying Elise and Mati’s relationship—as well as Mati’s experiences as an Afghan teen visiting America—in a way that’s both respectful and accurate has been incredibly important to me, as well as to the Swoon Team. So much so, we worked with a group of sensitivity readers. (A sensitivity reader is someone who reads a manuscript with an eye for inaccurate representation, issues of bias, and negatively charged language and provides an author with a critique.) With Kat’s help, I made The Impossibility of Us as strong as possible, then sent it off to be read by people who have religious and cultural similarities to Mati, people who would be able to help point out any problems previously missed.
Guys, I was so nervous about getting the sensitivity readers’ critiques back. What if my research hadn’t been enough? What if I’d made enormous errors? What if I’d been unintentionally offensive? What if they hated the book?
Turns out, my worries were for nothing. The sensitivity readers I worked with didn’t hate the book (YAY!), but they did ask plenty of insightful questions and provided tons of knowledge, as well as suggestions for revision. They were invaluable resources, and because of them, the book is better. I’m so grateful for their help!
Now, the story is D-O-N-E, and while some elements have been revised and some details have been edited, it’s still the very same real-life fairy tale I originally set out to write. I can’t wait for you to meet Elise and Mati!