What I have learned about being a Novelist — 4

Now it’s time for my student Saul Tee to speak. What he says is a lot, and his pencil was busy for the entire ten minutes of the assignment!

Tell you what, these high school guys are an insightful bunch! Enjoy Saul’s take on our class.

I have learned much about being a novelist throughout the course of this year. One thing I learned was not to put off assignments until the last minute. Writing takes time, and rushing does not produce good work. Even though waiting produces rewards, procrastination is bad.

Another novelist-in-the-making thing I learned was to appeal to the human. Robots are cool and all, but unless he has a hidden fondness of either a child or pigs or something, your story is pointless.

Saul Tee

The last (or maybe not) thing I have learned was to enjoy your story. If you don’t like what you write, why write it at all? Passion for a great subject increases what you put into the story and helps bring the story to life. If I write a story about Bob, but I hate Bob and don’t want to write about him, then all I will write would be simple sentences.

The final thing I have learned would have to be timing. You need to time both the comedy and action in a way that draws the reader in and never lets him leave.

There were tons more, but my paper room is done. This class has taught me a lot, and I have extremely enjoyed Creative Writing.

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What I have learned about being a Novelist — 1
What I have learned about being a Novelist — 2
What I have learned about being a Novelist — 3

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8 thoughts on “What I have learned about being a Novelist — 4

  1. Gayle Mills

    “Passion for a great subject increases what you put into the story and helps bring the story to life.” You’re absolutely right, Saul. And the truth of that statement also applies to your success in reaching the goals you set for life. Passion is never birthed fully grown. It starts as an interest, proceeds to a spark, becomes a flame, and finds its maturity in a raging, consuming fire.

    “One thing I learned was not to put off assignments until the last minute.” If you’ve mastered this concept, Saul, then you are truly on your way to collegiate success. When I give long-range project assignments to my students, I put the due date on the board and remind them that is the LAST day it can be turned in for full credit. After that date, NO excuse is acceptable. The “A” students always turn projects in early. They pace themselves, and their work reflects thought and efficient effort.

    Wishing all the best for you, Saul,
    Gayle

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    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Ha Great minds think alike, Gayle. Like you, my penalties for late work are stiff. (Five points per calendar—not class—day.) The way I see it, the procrastinating student is taking an unfair advantage over his classmates.

      On the positive side, I offer to go over any (typed) draft with the student, provided he comes to me before the due date and during my two free periods. Hello? This is the sure-fire route to an A! And it’s also where the real work of learning how to write happens, as the student sees me tighten up his sentences and ramp up the addictive tension in his scene. As you have discovered, Gayle, the best students—the ones who don’t need help or those who LOVE fiction writing—are the ones who come in.

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      1. Gayle Mills

        I’m right there with you, Laura. Half of success is just showing up.

        My favorite excuse is: My printer ran out of ink. (Today’s equivalent of: My dog ate it.) Of course, my answer is: You could have emailed it to me; you could have put it on a thumb drive; YOU COULD HAVE DONE THIS PROJECT WEEKS AGO!

        I never back down. Learning to be punctual is just too important to be “overlooked.” I give my students a grading rubric one week after the assignment is made. They have to fill it out with the name of their project, the date it was assigned, and the date it is due. Then they sign it. I keep those forms until I’m ready to grade the projects. There’s never a question about what I told them or IF I told them. It’s all there for their parents to see.

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  2. Robin Helm

    Very wise comments for such a young man, Saul. I expect to hear great things about you and from you. Maybe one day, you’ll emulate your teacher and write a book or two (or ten).

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    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Robin, this morning, “Saul” (Ben) and twenty-one college and high school students began their first leg of a two-week missions trip to the Philippines. They will be working alongside our sister church in Sampoloc, ministering to orphans and poor families in the Welfareville district of Manila. Such a great group of young people.

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      1. Robin Helm

        That’s wonderful, Laura. There is no better way to instill spirituality and compassion into people than to let them see how blessed they are in comparison with others. Experiences such as those are life-changing.

        My daughter, Mandy, is in the Philippines now, aboard the USNS Mercy. Melly is in Cambodia until Monday.

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  3. Laura Hile Post author

    There are parents who have both sons, or both daughters, on this team. It’s a small…and a very big…world. Small when one is the traveler. Big when one is the parent.

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    1. Robin Helm

      I totally agree. Having one daughter in Cambodia and the other somewhere in the Philippines – well, I just can’t think about it. Both of them had to take batteries of shots, spray their clothes with Premethrin and take Doxycycline to combat malaria, Japanese encephalitis, broken bone disease, yellow fever, typhoid, and tetanus. At least my younger one will be back in the States Monday night. The elder won’t move back until next July.

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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