Greenwich Village Students Participate in National Novel Writing Month

For some students, writing a term paper is difficult enough. But in some city high schools this month, students are writing novels. NY1’s Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

There was no time for writers block at the Academy for Software Engineering Tuesday. Students at the public high school looked up from their computers only when Jose Taveras announced he was done.

In 29 days, he had written 30,000 words. It is a complete novel.

"I just feel really great right now," said Taveras, student at Academy for Software Engineering.

His classmates have until the end of the day Wednesday to reach the same goal. 

"I couldn't really fathom writing 30,000 in 30 days because I never really wrote much growing up," said Anthony Ghatas, student at Academy for Software Engineering.

But on November 1, they wrote and joined tens of thousands of students across the country participating in National Novel Writing Month.

"I wanted to challenge them,” said Meredith Towne, English Teacher at Academy for Software Engineering. "I wanted to bring them a really rigorous writing experience and give them an opportunity to do something they hadn't done before."

National Novel Writing Month is an international group project. It started 18 years ago and last year, nearly 432,000 people participated and 40,000 reached their goal.

Meredith Towne took part twice.

"The word count for the adult program is 50,000," said Towne. "And I think I made it to about 15,000 words."

Her students have been writing about all sorts of things, like World War II, time travel and a love triangle. Some stories are dramatic, and even gruesome.

"My story is about this sociopath named Jasper Gush who decides later in life to become a hit man," said Taveras.

"A high class teenager who gets kidnapped and raped and sold into human trafficking and then she has to make her way out," said Marie Diaoune, student at Academy for Software Engineering.

Part of the purpose of the project is to get words on screen — but it's not just unstructured writing. There is a curriculum. And a website tracks each student's progress. Meredith Towne's class spent part of October getting ready.

"Thinking about plot and talking about story arch and creating characters and both internal and external conflict,” Towne said.

They will edit and revise their works in December. Then Towne hopes at least a few of her students will self-publish.

"You could say at graduation you're a published author," said Towne.

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