A group of A-Level English students at Croydon College have taken just five days to write a 40,000 word teen thriller about blackmail and cyber-bullying.
The nine students, from Croydon College, planned, drafted, edited and published Behind the Screen as part of a project aimed at promoting literacy.
A-Level English Literature student Brandon White, 20, from Croydon explained the process: “We did planning on the first day, writing the second and third day, and proofreading and making adjustments on the fourth and fifth day.
“We thought it was a big topic that affects many young people, and there are varying consequences of cyber bullying that we thought we should bring to light.”
The literacy project TooManyCooks, which joins students together to participate in literacy group activities and camps, put the challenge to the college. Project volunteers visit schools and train teachers and youth leaders on how to run group projects, and give students an idea for a story, which the young adults then develop into a novel.
Joseph Reddington, the project’s founder, said: “The novel they produced is fascinating. The students worked tremendously well under pressure. It is very much a trust exercise, and we helped them work collaboratively.”
White suggested that at times, there might literally have been too many cooks. “Getting nine people to agree on one thing is a challenge,” he said “When people didn’t always agree it did get stressful. It was difficult at times but overall this has been such a good experience.”
Croydon college teacher Jim Dean also live-tweeted the youths’ work on the novel, showing the entire process with behind-the-scenes photos and commentary. Dean said: “The overall enthusiasm level here is fantastic. The project is certainly pushing them out of their comfort zone.
“Seeing the students gain in confidence as they get through the week and write more has been a highlight for me. ”
Though the nine young writers published the novel together, there may be plans for individual follow-ups in the future. White says:”To be able to say that we’ve written a whole novel in under a week feels amazing. I wouldn’t say no to trying to write a book again. Doing the challenge has given the skills for me to go on, spread my wings and continue writing.”
Behind the Screen, is available to purchase on Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Behind-Screen-Tim-Cooks-ebook/dp/B00L8FLVQI in ebook format. Print copies are also available from Croydon College. Any profits earned by the sale of the books will be divided up equally among the A-level students.
For more on the TooManyCooks voluntary project visit: http://joereddington.com/projects/project-toomanycooks/