Student unhappiness with story ending sparks creativity
When Sarah McQuery’s sophomore English class read “By the Waters of Babylon,” by Stephen Vincent Benet, they were unhappy with the ending and motivated to write their own book. So they approached their teacher with the idea, not sure what her answer would be.
“Did you guys think I was going to let you?” she asked to the class of 13 students Monday afternoon.
“No,” they all laughed.
The class has since finished 16 chapters, and developed a unique writing and collaborative editing process, focusing on everyone’s individual strengths.
“We all have our strengths and our weaknesses,” said student Adriana Newman. “Some are better at writing different kinds of scenes, like love scenes or fighting scenes, some are better at grammar, some are really good at fueling ideas and then having others write it.”
Newman said in the end, they are all writing it together.
Whereas the team of young writers has been diligently working since October, a few breaks have been taken to avoid burnout. They’ve been focusing on the writing and editing process so much, they have yet to come up with a title for their work.
McQuery said that after she listened to Jay Asher speak at a conference, she brought some of his ideas back to her classroom. Asher is author of the Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why.”
“When they started talking about this and asking ‘how can we make this work,’ I told them about his co-writing process,” she said.
The novel takes place in the future after a nuclear war.
“A couple people that have read a little bit compare it to ‘The Hunger Games,’” McQuery said.
“We’ve been so connected with it this entire time,” student Isaiah Andres said. “We’ve learned through each other’s creative differences.”
“Every chapter we tried to have a different partner,” said classmate Jess Philpott.
“Yeah, we worked with people we normally wouldn’t have worked with,” explained Newman. “We didn’t just work with our best friend, which was really good for us.”
McQuery said that she’s talked with her class about sending it off to publishing companies and how that process works.
But first, they plan to print off four copies for people who have agreed to read it with fresh eyes and offer suggestions.
Then, with permission from the school, they want to make it available to the public.
“It’s been really cool,” said McQuery. “I didn’t know if you guys were going to stick with it,” she said.
Last modified April 18, 2018