While most people are used to reading novels as opposed to writing them, this month, some UCF students are putting down their bookmarks and picking up their pens to write their own stories.
National Novel Writing Month is an event that encourages individuals to write a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 30. The event started in 1999, and has since grown into a nonprofit organization that encourages writers across the country that their stories matter, according to the NaNoWriMo website.
Participants can make a profile on the website, where they can then upload their novel as they write it and track their word count and progress.
With the clock ticking, students are challenging themselves to finish their novels before the end of November.
Rebecca Anisman, a sophomore majoring in digital media game design, said that she’s loved writing since she was a kid.
She’s written about 5,000 words so far, but schoolwork has made working on the novel a challenge.
“Because of school it's been a long time since I've done serious writing, so getting back in the swing of things is the hardest part,” she said. “Creativity and writing ability are like muscles and one can lose muscle mass if they aren't stretched every so often.”
She’s worked on a lot of novels before, but the one she’s writing for this month’s challenge is called Mindscape.
“It's about two people in two separate universes that connect through their grief over losing their fathers,” Anisman said.
The two characters start off by reading each other’s entries in a journal and end up connecting their minds. Then, they find out one character’s father is alive, and they decide to find him.
“It's supposed to be about the power of writing and shared feelings,” Anisman said.
Taylor Davis, a senior majoring in legal studies, said the hardest part of writing her novel is the nitpicking that goes into deciding her characters’ next moves.
“I obsess over whether the character would do what I'm writing —am I forcing this on the character, or is it natural? Usually I let it sit for a few days, go back and read it,” she said. “If it flows I keep it. If it staccatos, I start over.”
Davis has been working on her novel since June, but she’s pushing to finish it by the end of the November in light of the challenge.
Her novel is about the generational divide in one family, and how the characters struggle through adolescence in the midst of that drama.
“It's about communication with your closest ones,” Davis said. “And staying true to who you want to be, even when it seems impossible.”
For some students, this is the first time they’ve decided to venture into the novel-writing arena.
Francin Espiritu, a junior nursing major, has been writing poetry and short stories since middle school, but decided to challenge herself in light of this month’s event.
“I've also had a lot of ideas for novels, but just never had the courage to try and write,” she said.
Now, she’s already written three chapters of her historical novel, which takes place in Korea in the 1920s, and focuses on the independence movement against the Japanese occupation. It will highlight one man, labeled a traitor, who must save his family and his country.
“I wanted to go back to my roots and explore the different facets of Asian culture,” Espiritu said. “It just so happened that I have grown quite the attachment to the Korean culture.”
Writing a 50,000-word story isn’t easy, but Anisman said that for writers, the challenge is worth it because it feeds their passion.
“I love putting my imagination to paper. Stories are so immensely powerful and I feel happy whenever I can make a new one,” she said. “Stories bring people together and make people understand other viewpoints and live another life. And giving that experience to people is something I love doing.”
Deanna Ferrante is a Senior Staff Writer and Watchdog Reporter for the Central Florida Future.