White Water Writers project produces a Sketch of Smoke
Students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have become published authors in less than a week after writing a book in five days.
The team, made up of 11 second-year students on English language, English literature and creative writing degree courses, took up the White Water Writers project to write the book. The initiative enables groups of writers to write and publish their own novel in five days using collaborative writing tools. Their book, A Sketch of Smoke, is now available to buy on Amazon and is about a group of children who are thrown together on a camping weekend and the events that unfold.
Student Charlotte Parker said: “We held a competition to find fellow authors and, along with other team leaders, came up with a plot that would play to our writers’ strengths. We then spent the first day planning to set the foundations for the book and then we wrote and wrote. By Wednesday, we had a first draft and Thursday and Friday were spent editing before having a final manuscript by Friday afternoon. It was very tiring and intense but also a great experience.”
Another student writer, Carol-Anne Bashford, commented: “I think it’s more about the process than having a polished product at the end. We learned about each other’s writing styles and how to work together under pressure. To go from nothing to a published book in five days is unbelievable.”
White Water Writers generally bring university students to work with Key Stage 3 schoolchildren on similar ‘school sprints’ but the initiative was adapted for UCLan’s English Language Skills Initiative for Employability scheme. Other projects have involved working with external employers to assist with teaching, marketing, PR, proofreading, content writing and publishing.
By Wednesday, we had a first draft and Thursday and Friday were spent editing before having a final manuscript by Friday afternoon. It was very tiring and intense but also a great experience.
Angela Kilpatrick, employability co-ordinator for English language and linguistics at UCLan, said: “Traditionally English degrees aren’t seen as vocational so this project is a fantastic way of allowing the students to gain practical experience and find out what careers they may be interested in. After working with White Water Writers, some have expressed an interest in publishing and others, who on the back of this then went into schools to work with young people on their own project, are hoping to become teachers.”
Joe Reddington, founder of White Water Writers, added: "The UCLan students have been a massive part of the White Water Writers project this year. From self-organising a group to writing an entire novel unsupervised to traveling long distances so they help disadvantaged kids find their own voice, they have been tireless and inspiring. So far eight of our novels have been produced with the hard work of UCLan students and 70 children have had a massive difference made to their lives."