Visiting author gives advice to aspiring student writers


Students listen as debut author Elisa Nader talks about her writing experience.

Ellen Kan

On Oct. 21, students gathered during eighth period to hear Elisa Nader, a local author who recently published her debut novel.

When the session opened, Nader gave a brief summary of her journey as an author. She was first inspired to become a serious writer after taking creative writing classes in college. After 10 years of drafting manuscripts, Nader secured an agent for her young adult novel “Escape from Eden, which tells the story of a girl who struggles to escape from a cult-like society “under the iron fist of a fundamentalist preacher.” “Escape from Eden” was published on Aug. 18.

When Nader opened the floor to questions, the students eagerly asked for advice on a wide range of topics.

A recurring question focused on how to add visual descriptions, characterization and backstories without detracting from the action and overall storyline. For these concerns, Nader offers advice on finding the right balance between words and focus.

“Try to take out unnecessary words that add too much flourish. Everything in your story must mean something,” Nader said. “If you need to explain a backstory, it’s best to find a way to sprinkle it throughout because readers like to be in the moment.”

Other topics that Nader addressed included how to choose between self-publishing and traditional publishing, write dialogue and choose a point of view to write from with a target audience in mind.

Students look forward to using these valuable tips to guide them in their future endeavors. Many will try their hand at National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo participants are tasked with writing a 50,000-word novel by the end of November.

“For a long time, I’ve been wondering how to best implement my characters,” senior Linda Lay said. “She gave an example of writing out ‘character sheets’ and having a character interview in order to best flesh out their personalities. I thought that it was super insightful, and I’ll be using it in my NaNoWriMo this year.”

During the month of November, English teacher Suzette Henry and counselor Christina Ketchem will sponsor a NaNoWriMo club that will meet on Wednesday eighth periods, beginning with a preparation meeting on Oct. 31 for interested writers.