Artistic Achievement: ENGL 221

Intro to Writing Fiction (ENGL 221) [Honors Enhanced] – Spring 2020

I’d been looking forward to taking a creative writing class since the moment I became a college student. I grew up writing fiction as a hobby; I attended summer camps and peer-led workshops through middle and high school for varying creative writing topics. So, going into the class, I felt prepared — but I wanted to push myself further.

I chose to enhance this class, meaning I took it as a standard class and through a sort of individual study turned it into an honors class for myself. Most students choose to do a research paper or some other type of study, but for this class I had something else in mind: I wanted to write a novella. Or rather, edit a novella. I’d written a story, something around 75 pages, a year or two prior, and this class seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to pick it up, dust it off, and see how far my writing skills had come.

This was simultaneously the most daunting and the most enjoyable thing I have ever done for school. Working with the guidance of Professor Brandon Haffner, I worked throughout the semester to make big changes in the story, first by editing the overall structure and then working to rewrite it and polish it, scene by scene. I also read and discussed several short stories, novellas, and novels, to find inspiration for my own writing.

In the end, I emerged with a much more complete (though still not fully complete) draft of my story, and a much better sense of my strengths, weaknesses, and style as a fiction writer. It’s not a perfect manuscript, but I plan to spend the summer ahead of me continuing the work that I started in class. And that, I think, is one of the best parts of education: it can inspire you outside of school, not just in class.

Below is an excerpt from my story, after being revised. The story is about two high school friends, August and Leonia, whose lives are changed after Leonia dies — but she still lives on as a ghost.