Academics, Middle School, Upper School

Students Write Novels

“I’m writing 4,000 words per day,” said Lynn L. ‘22, who was one of 28 students taking The Transformative Power of the Novel, part of Northwest’s two-week Summits Program in March. “Each day, we sit down and are in charge of everything we type out on the page. I’ve never done this before. I’ve never written anything 80 pages long in my life. I’m having a blast.”

The Transformative Power of the Novel introduced students to the process of writing a novel. The class of Middle and Upper School students spent six hours each day fleshing out their ideas into rich plotlines with developed characters.

“The writing - the sticking with it, the process - is the hard part,” said Humanities teacher Julie Kim, who taught the Summit alongside fellow Humanities teachers Adina Meyer and Jeremy Scheuer. “We set some aspirational goals, and all of the students completely surpassed their own expectations of what they were capable of. As teachers, that was incredibly inspiring.”

At separate points during the Summit, students interviewed two published authors: The New York Times bestselling fantasy fiction author Terry Brooks and memoirist Margie Combs, who is Northwest’s director of communications.

Adina, Julie, and Jeremy all participated in the writing portion of the Summit as well. For Adina, it was hard to keep on track with her own writing because she became so engrossed in the students’ progress.

“I thought I would have a lot more time to write my novel, but I’ve gotten into my students’ novels so much,” said Adina. “Every single one, I care about the characters, I want to know what is happening. I cried at one of the novels. They are all so good that I pretty much quit writing my own.”

The purpose of The Transformative Power of the Novel was never about the final product, explained Julie.

“We wanted to show the students that if you stick with something, no matter how difficult it is, you can persevere, and that is an enormous sense of accomplishment,” said Julie. “A rough draft is valuable. Perfection was never the goal; it was always about the practice.”