2022 Annual Contest Editor ✓
2021 Annual Contest Editor ✓
Mini-Event Editor ✓
Rowan Zeoli is a storyteller and developmental editor dedicated to creating a more inclusive literary landscape. They are also a cofounder of WriteHive, a non-profit that hosts a free virtual writing conference and retreat, along with a year round community dedicated to uplifting marginalized literary professionals. They firmly believe stories are how we can imagine a new, better world. The more stories we have, the more voices we have telling those stories from their own unique perspective, the better off the world will be for it.
After the years we've all had I'm looking for two things: strong and wholesome relationships (of all kinds) and Genre Fiction that questions the status quo. That's pretty vague, so here's a solid breakdown:
Things I'm Looking For This Contest:
Age: Adult, New Adult (it's gonna be a thing, I swear), and Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Horror, Magical Realism, Contemporary Fiction, Alternate History
Elements That Will Make Me Excited:
- Characters that are Non-Binary or Trans, Queer (especially Bi/Pan, Ace/Aro, or Poly), BIPOC, or Disabled/Neurodivergent
- Strong friendships between characters of all genders
- Moments of Humor an Levity Amid a Serious Plot
- Found Family
- Graphic Novels
Things I'm Not Looking For This Contest:
Age: MG or Younger
Genre: Hard Sci-Fi, Military, Historical Fiction, Crime Procedurals, Romance (as the primary genre - romantic elements are welcome)
Elements That Will Be An Auto-No:
- Love Triangles That Aren't Polyamorous
- On-Screen Sexual Assault or Sexual Assault that is the catalyst for a character's story
- Anything that looks like a @MenWriteWomen tweet
How can a manuscript’s first five pages make you sit up and take notice?
I hate being confused, but I love wanting to know more. Drop me in the middle of a scene with just enough reason to care about the MC and what's going on, while leaving room for questions to be answered moving forward. Roughly I want you to show me:
- the MC's status quo
- how they relate to that status quo
- a goal they want to achieve
- the stakes of not achieving that goal
- how they relate to and interact with the world/people around them
What can writers expect from working with you during #RevPit, including communication?
Each story and author is different, but here's a general outline, process-wise: I like to have an initial onboarding call with my writers to understand their vision for the story. That way, I can go into my initial readthrough knowing the story you want to tell, rather than projecting the story I think you want to tell onto the manuscript. Then I'll draft up an edit letter, making some inline comments along the way, and have a secondary call to go over everything. Depending on how fast it takes you to make those changes, we'll either do another round of developmental edits, or line-edits. I'm available by email, twitter, discord, zoom, whatever works best for you.
Disclaimer: I have a tendency to overexplain myself. That's for a couple reasons. One, I have ADHD. Two, when I provide feedback, I like to provide potential solutions rather than pointing out all the weak points of your story. However, this is your story. I'm just here to help you make the words on the page match the story in your head. When I highlight problems, I want to ensure that you're fully informed on my thought process about why X doesn't work, and why Y might be a better option. Even if you don't go with that solution, you'll have a better understanding of what exactly needs fixing, and be able to take that understanding and those tools with you into all of your future projects.
What do you expect from writers during the #RevPit revision process, including communication?
Open and honest feedback. For the time we work together, we are in a collaborative partnership. I don't know if I need to adjust what I'm doing if you don't communicate how it's going on your end. Each new author I work with teaches me just as much about the craft of editing as I teach them about developing their story. No question is a dumb question, and I appreciate being challenged on my notes - because that allows me to better understand what you intended to say, and from there we can figure out a more effective way to convey that.
What hobbies do you have outside of writing and editing?
Outside of the literary world, I do standup and storytelling in New York City; I have a guitar, ukulele, viola, and piano that are just sitting around collecting dust; I really enjoy aimlessly walking through the woods hoping to get lost and fall into a pocket dimension. I've also read over 100 graphic novels in the past year. And I really, really, really, reaaaaaaalllllly love D&D.