Creative writing club begins new chapter for student novelists


Max Beitzel and Justine Liu

Imagine a city encapsulated in a dome being the only place you know exists. A life filled with redemption, drama, and demi-humans. This is the world junior John Choi is creating in his novel, The End of Fantasies. While taking on the task of writing a novel, Choi has also started a brand new creative writing club at South, hoping to gather a community of writers.

With help from sponsors English teacher Gwen Quigley and Kimiko Garbe, English Instructional Assistant, Choi has set up a space for students to spend time after school, bonding and writing whatever they choose.

“The goals of the club are for students to be able to work on their writing together and hopefully make improvements that they can be proud of,” Quigley said. “I think you only really get better at writing, if you are writing.”

Meetings will largely consist of students working on their own writing, helping others with their writing, and getting help from the sponsors as well. Writing prompts might be given at the start of the day to help students if they are struggling with knowing what to write about, said Quigley. Another very important aspect of the Creative Writing Club, according to Choi, is the sense of community in the meetings. Junior Alejiah McDougald joined the club this year, to be a part of this community, and to express her ideas in an open minded environment.

“I wanted to join the club because I thought that it was a good place to have like minded people around you,” McDougald said. “Something that interested me was the fact that it’s creative, so I wouldn’t be judged on what I write. The club allows me to share my work with people, and give feedback.”

This transfer of ideas and feedback is exactly what Choi had in mind when starting the club, hoping that others would find it as a space to improve, and help others improve their writing skills.

“I hope it can be a friendly environment where people can openly talk about their ideas and communicate with other writers, so they can improve their own writing, and help others improve themselves,” Choi said. The club has also given him the opportunity to share and build on ideas for The End of Fantasies.

Choi’s story is set in a “Victorian steampunk” future, where only one city exists as a result of a war that wiped out races of people. This giant city exists in the middle of a wasteland, the product of many inventors after the war, Choi said. He explained that the main character, the last of his race, and son of one of the main inventors, views the city as “the grave of his people” and as such wishes for revenge on his father. Choi began drafting an outline for his novel over the summer, yet new ideas to add to the story still come to him regularly.

“Right now, I am 80 pages or so [into the novel], but I’m trying to extend my outline,” Choi said. “I usually work on it when I have the time and when I have ideas of what to write.”

His characters include an array of different demi-humans: including human-fairies and human-vampires. He described that dark themes seen in the modern-day, such as corruption and racism, are incorporated into his revenge story. After previously writing two short stories, Choi hopes for The End of Fantasies to be an embodiment of his best work and hopefully develop into a series.

“I want this book to work out, so I’m trying [to make sure] the quality is good,” Choi said. “I expect it to be done by at least the end of this year.”

Choi hopes to continue to express his passion for writing with his novel, and to share that passion with South students through his Creative Writing Club. He encourages students with even a tiny bit of interest in writing to not be afraid of the daunting task of making their work good.

“For anyone who’s interested in creative writing, just write,” Choi advised. “It doesn’t matter if it’s good or not. All you have to do is write, and [you will] understand more about it as you continue.”