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Honors English students strive to complete a novel in the month of November

Freshman+Makenna+Dunn+works+on+her+novel+in+the+computer+lab.+Students+were+required+to+work+on+their+novels+at+home+each+night+to+make+steady+progress.+%22It+is+pretty+intimidating+to+be+%5Bwriting+a+novel%5D+in+a+month%2C+but+I+feel+like+as+I%E2%80%99ve+gone+on+with+it+I%E2%80%99ve+actually+had+a+lot+of+fun+writing+on+my+own+time%2C%22+Dunn+said.
Freshman Makenna Dunn works on her novel in the computer lab. Students were required to work on their novels at home each night to make steady progress.

Freshman Makenna Dunn works on her novel in the computer lab. Students were required to work on their novels at home each night to make steady progress. "It is pretty intimidating to be [writing a novel] in a month, but I feel like as I’ve gone on with it I’ve actually had a lot of fun writing on my own time," Dunn said.

Sabrina Bohn

Sabrina Bohn

Freshman Makenna Dunn works on her novel in the computer lab. Students were required to work on their novels at home each night to make steady progress. "It is pretty intimidating to be [writing a novel] in a month, but I feel like as I’ve gone on with it I’ve actually had a lot of fun writing on my own time," Dunn said.

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Students in Kim Hanan-West’s Honors English I class are getting hands-on writing experience by participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), with the goal of completing a 50,000 word novel by Nov. 30.

“A lot of what we’re doing is together, sort of collaborative learning, and it’s totally different from what I’ve ever done before,” Hanan-West said. “It’s like training for a 5K, which you don’t do so by being on the sofa. You have to train, and I’m making them train [by writing.]”

Students were given the option to write about any topic of their choosing, as long as they were mindful of their audience. Freshman Makenna Dunn decided on a fantasy story about a girl who has gained superhero-like abilities.

“I really liked developing my characters and just the overall plot at the beginning, and then seeing that change and grow into an actual story,” Dunn said. “I was just taking ideas from other books that I’ve read and combining it.”

Students not only feel that this project will prepare them for future writing projects, but also future careers. Dunn plans to one day become an English teacher.

“I have a set goal per night that I’m trying to get, even if it takes a little longer one night to finish a certain section. It’s helped me to keep writing until I get the hang of it,” Dunn said. “It is pretty intimidating to be [writing a novel] in a month, but I feel like as I’ve gone on with it, I’ve actually had a lot of fun writing on my own time.”

Hoping to become an author, freshman Lily Schell feels that NaNoWriMo will help her take her first steps towards the career.

My goal is to teach all the same skills that any other Honors class cover, like inference, analysis and critical thinking, but to do so in this fashion is exciting because it’s new and fresh.”

— Kim Hanan-West

“I was really excited [about this project]. I’ve been wanting to write a novel for years now, and I’m finally starting to get to it,” Schell said. “I think this will be a really big learning process, but I’m hoping to learn more about my own writing style and about others’, because the whole class is writing novels, and I’ll get to look at that.”

Despite the students’ excitement, they are facing challenges along the way, like procrastination and developing their stories.

“I think as I’ve been doing my rising action, I’ve had to come up with a lot of connecting scenes, and that’s been hard for me,” Dunn said. “I know where I want to go, but not really how to get there. Coming up with those filler scenes, while also making them interesting to read, has been difficult.”

However, the students are able to face these challenges through the prewriting work they did in a packet from NaNoWriMo, as well as looking at novels by a variety of writers.

“I think it’s exciting to do something different,” Hanan-West said. “My goal is to teach all the same skills that any other honors class covers, like inference, analysis and critical thinking, but to do so in this fashion is exciting because it’s new and fresh.”

Besides teaching the students English and prewriting skills, Hanan-West hopes this project will get students in the habit of writing daily.

“Reaching 50,000 words is not the point,” Hanan-West said. “The idea is to develop discipline, editing skills and write every single day.”

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Honors English students strive to complete a novel in the month of November