Better than perfect

As seventh graders finished up their first drafts of their novels in December, they had a visit from author and self-styled "writing cheerleader" Chris Baty.

Baty is the creator of National Novel Writing Month, the annual challenge that Gordon seventh graders have been participating in for years. 

At Gordon, National Novel Writing Month becomes a yearlong curriculum: students begin the year studying the internal structure and pacing of novel-length stories, and creating characters and plot points to populate their imagined worlds. They then take a month to write their first draft, then polish it as winter turns into spring. Along the way, drafts are circulated, and students receive constructive criticism from their classmates, their teachers, and from volunteer readers drawn from Gordon's staff and faculty.


When Baty met with students in December, they were in the final days of their first major deadline, when their first drafts were due. Baty's message? Get the words onto the page, finish their outlines, and don't brood over word choice and sentence structure. "Done," at that point, "is better than perfect".

In January, students will polish those first drafts and share them with their volunteer readers. For now, they shared their opening sentences, included below. Congratulations to all the writers!

As we know, cities grow more and more, people start entering the spaces of the wildlife.

I am starting to get dizzy.


Clang! His shot smacked off the post.

I sit down at the Thanksgiving table, and stare at the empty chair in the corner.

The rain dripped from the gutter onto my forehead. I looked up at the sky only to see dark grey clouds hovering over north central city.

My alarm rings in my ears, the paparazzi and red carpet images disappears in my dream. I groan.

I stared down at the rug, covered in stains of food, and dirt that was once tracked in. Once a vivid turquoise color, entrancing all who stare at it and its elaborate patterns, it now looked more like a bear pooped on a green dragon egg.

I still remember the day when the world changed.

My room is damp, full of stinky clothes and socks.

If someone were to look at Sky, they would think that she has a normal life.

Aurora was blinded by the light of fires around her. Her chest heaved and her breath turned ragged as she inhaled more smoke.

I walk down the chipped sidewalk for the first time in three months. It’s finally sort of warm again, and I am going to take advantage of that.

“Ding, Ding, Ding,” the chimes bellowed. My eyes opened to a clean room.

“Good night,” my mom said as she turned out the light and closed the door.

When Miguel wakes up, he looks at the wall. It has paint scraped off of it and you can see some of the bricks and wood it is made of

I looked at her, latching the wheel tighter, "Carolina, watch out!" A loud boom later, I woke up in a hospital bed.

It has only been a fortnight since my brother died and they are already crowning me.

I am greeted by the gray Monday morning light and the brick walls of dread that I call my school.

As I picked up my cello from my case, I felt the familiar grooves and dips. The slight dent from the time I nicked it against a piano, the slight chip near the neck wear my brother had knocked it over by accident.

Ari hated her life.

She was running through the deep, dark woods.

Sai looked at Emerald.

I wake up in the morning living the good life.

I am Todoroki and I go to U.A. highschool where you learn to train and control your quirks.

Aiza typed quickly, wanting to finish this chapter by the time her sister came in to yell at her.

Bob Biff lives in Yellowtown, Mass.

beep beep beep

People crowded the streets sauntering in and out of shops, carrying zillions of bags.

“Hurry up,” I yell down at Caleb, my best friend, “I have to be home soon!”

It is November 20th, in downtown LA. Today is my basketball game.

Hi my name is Alex. I'm an eighteen year old boy that goes to NMC in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I roll down my window and pick up my caramel macchiato. Driving down Broad, I take a sip of cool, sweet, coffee.

Henry Wilson had his dream job. He was a spy for the CIA.

I’ve been running for what seems like hours. All I know is that my legs feel like jelly and there is a pack of wolves behind me.

The day finally came after years of waiting.

Joseph took the mask from the side of his bed and ran outside.

“Dad, I’m home!” I say, slamming the door behind me.

“Once again, it is absolutely painless.” He grabbed both needles at once and shoved them into Jack’s shoulder. It was the exact opposite of painless.

The knife in their throats looks like a mirror when the flashlight shines on the metal and I can almost imagine the sound of it slicing through skin.

Jack woke in a bright room with pure white walls and fluorescent lights that stung his eyes.

The autumn breeze tousled my caramel brown hair as I shuffled from foot to foot waiting outside of the school.

It's been five years since the sun went down and never came up again.

The cold Alabama air drifted through my window, which was left ajar from last night.


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