Today will be the first part of a 2-pt interview on a unique writing program called One Year Adventure Novel. These three extremely talented writers happen to be doing the program themselves, and took time out to talk about it!
Welcome, Kelsey, Ruth, and Kayla!
1. What exactly is One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN)?
Ruth: OYAN is a high school English course. It was designed and written by Daniel Schwabauer. It includes a workbook, a textbook, DVD teachings for each lesson, a copy of “Prisoner of Zenda” by Anthony Hope, and a teacher's guide. With the curriculum also comes access to the OYAN forums and webinars which are conducted live by the Schwabauers.
Kayla: It is a writing course by Daniel Schwabauer, designed to help teach students how to write the epic adventure of their dreams and FINISH IT, all in one school year! Mr. Schwabauer designed it to help people outline their novel and write it all, beginning to end.
2. How did you find about about OYAN, and what made you decide to do it?
Kelsey: I first heard about it from Kayla. Shortly after that some other friends decided to go through the curriculum for school. We had a sort of writing group going on for a while, but that has since met its demise—it was all very tragic. Anyway, I decided to do it because the hoards of people who sung its praises succeeded in convincing me. Now I have happily joined their number. (What? Adverbs are allowed in blog posts, aren't they?)
Ruth: I first heard about it from two friends who were doing it. Then a sample DVD of the course was being passed around at the Writer's Group that I attend. I borrowed the sample DVD and watched it. That was pretty much it. I was hooked, and I wanted to do it.
Kayla: We learned about it through a homeschool newsletter spring 2008, I believe. I didn’t hesitate. I wanted to do it very much! I wanted anything that would teach me to write, and this seemed liked just what I wanted!
3. Are there any basic skills/knowledge you need to have before beginning the program?
Ruth: No. The course teaches you how to write. Not dry essays, but stories. Novels. Tales. Mr. S has the most amazing understanding of storytelling and I'm always thrilled by the excitement of understanding stories through the light of OYAN. While I've written novels before, I know that other people enjoy it as well. There have been many non-writers who have gotten lots of good out of it.
Kelsey: Reading, writing, the basics. But like any writing program, the more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it—the more you've read, the more you know of human nature, the better use you can make of the curriculum.
4. In general, are you glad you're doing/have done OYAN?
Ruth: Oh, amazingly so. I am nowhere near all the way through the course, but I've already gotten scads of good out of it. The things I'm learning in OYAN saved the novels I wrote for NaNo this year! All of a sudden it's like a light bulb has come on and I understand adventure stories.
Kayla: Yes. This course isn’t cliche, and certainly goes against the grain of modern writing. Be prepared to stand out! That’s what the course is all about.
5. What does a day of OYAN involve?
Ruth: I guess that depends entirely upon how much you want to do in a day! For me, I usually do OYAN every other day; usually watching a lesson on the DVD and then working through the lesson in the workbook.
Kelsey: Supposedly it involves watching the video lesson then filling out the worksheet (if you haven't finished your planning) or writing part of your chapter (if you have), but my method is rather—er—flexible.
Kayla: To begin with, you watch the first lesson on the first DVD, taught by Mr. Schwabauer, then read the same lesson in the text book. Then, work in the workbook. Sometimes Mr. Schwabauer adds an excerpt from a book such as Huckleberry Finn for you to read at the end of a lesson in the textbook, and he assigns you a chapter in Prisoner of Zenda.
6. Tell us about your novel! (Title, synopsis, and anything else you want to share!)
Kelsey: My book is called Day of Ashes, and it's set in London in 1941. Bombs fall, things burn, that sort of thing. It can't make up its mind whether to be mystery/suspense or a character-driven historical fiction pseudo-drama piece, but since it's failing at suspense it probably leans toward the latter.
Ruth: Well, I've never been one for writing fantasy adventure, but both my NaNo novel (“Mirror”) and my OYAN novel (“Courage Enough”) have been of that genre. Goes to show that Mr. S has made a big breakthrough here!
Basically my novel is about a young prince that has been hidden away for years by an evil lord. So long that he does not know his identity, until an twist of fate (and a bit of help from an party that I refuse to name) causes him to remember. The novel then follows the fight to overthrow the evil Lord Drankor and the prince's quest to regain his rightful throne despite his fear.
Kayla: It’s called “My Soldier Boys”. When Germany invades France, in WWII, Marie Dumont helps her father and older brother organize resistance. They are quite successful in wrecking havoc upon the Germans. But in one tragic incident, Marie’s father is killed. She blames herself for her father’s death, and refuses to have anything more to do with resistance. But, in the bitter winter of 1944, Marie must find her brother and escape Hitler’s reign of terror before all is finished. Then she meets American soldiers holding secret documents who also need her help. If she agrees to aid them, what would be her fate then?
7. Have you done anything different with your OYAN novel that you wouldn't otherwise have done?
Kelsey: My stories tend to flounder halfway through because I can't get my characters out of the disasters I create, so both the chapter-by-chapter and book-as-a-whole outlines were most helpful. I think I'm slowly leaving the dark side of seat-of-the-pants writing (a shocking development—what is the world coming to?).
Ruth: Many things. I've had to do my character different. Really think out my plot. Add betrayal. Add danger. Add intrigue. Add a potential bad ending. Make it worse...and worse...and worse. Push it to the very edge.
8. What is the best part about OYAN?
Ruth: The way Mr. S works you through the whole process. He holds you to certain standards and makes you think about what makes a really great story. WHAT keeps you reading. WHAT keeps you turning the pages. WHAT makes you really LOVE the story. And then he turns around and asks you to use it. The result is something that I think few of us could produce on our own.
Kelsey: Nina, you are cruel.
Kayla: The best part is being able to apply the lessons to your writing and actually do it right! I’m just beginning to understand OYAN principles, and its just dawning on me that they aren’t that hard. You see them EVERYWHERE! In the things you read, watch in movies, on television, perhaps even in your own life story! They are what make writing wonderful!
9. What is the worst part about OYAN?
Ruth: Maybe all the rules. You have to put this in and have to put that in. You have to write it from first person (which my main character does not like at all. He keeps on trying to kick me out of his head). If there was to be one thing that I'm not very fond of, that would be it.
Kayla: Thinking up things to happen in your novel. Oh, it’s easy to think of scenes for the Inciting Incident, Embracing Destiny, and all that. But the in between is the hardest.
Ruth, Kayla, and Kelsey: thanks for coming! I look forward to seeing you all next week with the part 2 of the interview. :)