I’m so excited to share this “How To” with y’all today! Karole Cozzo has provided an exclusive guest post for her blog tour of HOW TO KEEP ROLLING AFTER A FALL. This book sounds so amazing you guys. Check out the blurb below and then read on for Karole’s guest post. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end for a paperback of How to Keep Rolling After a Fall!
How to Keep Rolling After a Fall
Publication date: August 2nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
After a cyber bullying incident turns her life upside down, a handsome wheelchair rugby player shows a former mean girl that everyone deserves a second chance in this swoonworthy new novel from the author of How to Say I Love You Out Loud.
The party was at her house. The photos were posted to her Facebook account. That’s all the evidence anyone needed to condemn Nikki Baylor for a cyberbullying incident that humiliated a classmate and nearly resulted in the girl’s suicide. Now Nikki’s been expelled from her old school, her friends have abandoned her, and even her own parents can’t look her in the eye. With her plans for the future all but destroyed, Nikki resigns herself to being the girl everyone hates – almost as much as she hates herself. But then Nikki meets Pax, a spirited wheelchair rugby player who knows what it’s like when one mistake completely shatters your life. Refusing to judge her because of her past, he shows her that everyone deserves a second chance… and everyone deserves to be loved.
How to Make Your Characters Believable by Karole Cozzo
At my day job, I’m a School Psychologist. So creating believable characters – thinking in depth about characters and their development, portraying emotional honesty – tends to maintain a spot at the top of my priority list when I’m writing. My psychologist brain definitely impacts my writer’s brain, and not just when it comes to storylines and subject matter!
I take pride in my commitment to creating authentic characters, and my rule of thumb in doing so pretty much boils down to this – show their flaws, reveal those not-so-pleasant innermost thoughts and feelings. You know those internal thought bubbles or emotions that leave your conscience feeling icky? The ones you’d hesitate to ever admit out loud? That’s what I’m talking about here. And there are a couple of reasons for that. Number one, we seek books for common ground, for shared understanding of our life experiences, not only to escape life but to feel like what we’re going through in real life is not something we’re necessarily going through alone. I hope by revealing some of the less-than-pleasant aspects of a character’s personality on the page, maybe I can reach readers who might be struggling with aspects of their own personalities, and help them reflect upon and maybe strive for change in their own lives. And related to that idea, number two – in our flaws and personal weaknesses lie opportunities for growth. What’s a story without character growth and development, after all?
However, make no mistake about it – it’s not necessarily easy to bring a flawed character to the page. As authors, we come to realize that we have a very brief opportunity to make a good first impression, to draw a reader in, to make them feel invested in the story, to care about our characters. It can be very challenging to find the balance between putting a flawed character at the helm of a story, sharing his or her innermost thoughts and feelings with a reader… and losing said reader altogether. If a reader comes to the conclusion “OMG, this person’s awful” before the end of chapter one, they might not stick around to see if that ever changes.
This was a challenge I faced with both Nikki in How To Keep Rolling After a Fall and Jordyn in How To Say I Love You Out Loud. During the editing process, I learned a few tricks of the trade to hopefully convince readers to stick around long enough to get to know my characters and catch a glimpse of their potential for growth. First, soften them a bit when you can. Consider their language and interactions in each of those initial scenes, and remember that readers don’t know your characters like you do. Look for opportunities to show a softer side, or temper your wording. At the beginning, every word counts, and you must be extremely mindful of how your character is introducing him or herself. Second, show their softer side. Is there a friend, sibling, or pet they have a soft spot for? Include an interaction as quickly as possible to show there’s more to your character than may meet the eye. And lastly, make sure your readers know your character isn’t necessarily happy with themselves at the onset of the story, either. When reflecting on his or her thoughts or actions, do they feel ashamed or embarrassed or regretful or guilty? Let your readers know they’re not the only ones not entirely happy with the character at the start! Hopefully, by keeping these points in mind, an author can find the balance between creating honest characters and enticing the reader to stick around long enough to get to know them and share their journey. Because some of the most gratifying stories are when those journeys take the main character the farthest from the person they were at the start to the person they are at the conclusion.
That was awesome. Believable characters is one of my main critiques about books. The characters are my favorite part about reading books. I love that Cozzo puts so much thought into her character development. I know this book will be great just from her thoughts on characters.
KAROLE COZZO is a school psychologist by day, a wife and mother of two by night, and a writer of YA romance in the wee hours of the morning. She loves camping out at Starbucks, breakfast cereal at all hours, and watching every movie made from her favorite YA books. How to Say I Love You Out Loud is her debut novel.