Young authors complete month-long novel project |

Young authors complete month-long novel project

by Sharlene Irete

The students in Amanda Dykes’ English class created a word count tower with every inch of paper representing a thousand words written. If the total work of two classes was represented, the word count tower in the Sierra Lutheran High School class would have run up one wall, across the ceiling and down the opposite wall.

The occasion for the flurry of writing was November’s National Novel Writing Month where the goal is for anyone to write a novel from scratch between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30.

Dykes encouraged her students to write science-fiction, fantasy, historical fiction and autobiographies during the month-long class project. The goal was to forego tweaking and just create.

“It was great not having to worry about doing it perfectly,” said Dykes.

The students created titles, set their goals and several projects amounted to 40 or more pages of text.

“Mrs. Dykes wanted us to write with no strict rules,” said Shelby Farney, “Imagination was allowed and encouraged.”

Shelby wrote every day on a fantasy she started a year and a half ago. The title, “The Undying Flame,” refers to the undying compassion and strength needed to overcome evil.

“It’s about a handful of people who are all connected,” Shelby said. “There are links of love and war and divination in it. I want people to read my story, get lost in it and escape from the real world.”

Shelby said something KTVN Channel 2 weatherman Mike Alger stuck with her after he came to talk about novel-writing at Sierra Lutheran at the beginning of the writing project.

“Mike Alger said writing a book is like a journey,” she said. “He said to try to picture things happening like you’re seeing them out of a train window. I can see it from a different perspective that way.”

Although Shelby didn’t finish her novel and took a short break at the end of the project on Dec. 1, her goal is to eventually finish. She said the ideas she received from other students and teachers during the writing project helped her put her book into perspective.

“It was a good lesson because I knew I wasn’t a professional writer and I needed help and criticism,” she said. “You’re always learning when you’re a writer.”