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Students prepare for National Novel Writing Month

Ally Veaner '16 talks about "World Building" during Randolph's Creative Writing Cafe October 23.

Ally Veaner ’16 talks about “World Building” during Randolph’s Creative Writing Cafe October 23.

On Sunday, several Randolph students will brew large pots of coffee, grab their laptops, and begin the ambitious project of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 31.

The creative writing students are participating in National Novel Writing Month (also called NaNoWriMo), which is held by a nonprofit of the same name. NaNoWriMo encourages writers of all ages and skillsets to draft a novel during the month of November. In 2014, more than 325,000 writers across the United States participated, and since its inception in 1999, NaNoWriMo has published more than 250 novels.

On October 23, Randolph’s Creative Writing Club and Writing Lab partnered to host a Creative Writing Café. At the workshop, students who had previously participated in NaNoWriMo led sessions on various aspects of novel writing to help their classmates get started. They also served coffee and snacks during the five-hour event, and shared their creative talents by creating unusual Nutella dipping combinations.

Lindsay Brents ’16 previously completed a novel during NaNoWriMo, and led a workshop session on “Plot.” Instead of writing a 50,000-word novel from scratch this November, she plans to use the time to continue working on a novel she wrote for Camp NaNoWriMo in July.

Her story follows two female protagonists. One is the heir to a small land holding which is attacked by bandits, and the other was raised in a brothel and becomes a sex worker. She is now exploring how they could both end up as members of the royal court and, in the process, develop a strong personal relationship. Brents plans to publish some of the novels she has written in the future.

“I love NaNoWriMo because it’s a great way to motivate and discipline yourself to simply get writing done,” Brents said. “The hectic pace isn’t for everyone, but it does force you to stop worrying about writing perfectly on the first go. It’s a great tool to generate material, and once you have material, it’s a lot easier to get a novel finished.”

Ally Veaner ’16 led a session on “World Building.” Veaner has previously entered NaNoWriMo, and this year plans to enter her creative writing senior project themed around a community center in the 1920s.

Hannah Edwards ’16 is writing a sequel to an adventure novel she wrote the last time she completed a novel during NaNoWriMo. In her session on “Character,” she advised against making novel protagonists likeable.

“At the end of the day, all we really want is for readers to form a connection with these people,” Edwards said. “There’s nothing wrong with having likeable characters, but the way you get a likeable character is by creating a complex person who is shaped by their experiences. If the characters are too nice, they’re going to glide apart from one another. You need friction between characters in order to make the plot stick and to make the characters stick in your mind.”

For more information on Randolph’s Creative Writing Club and Writing Lab, please visit For more information on NaNoWriMo, see

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