Through 78 video lessons, The One Year Adventure Novel high school English curriculum guides 9th–12th graders step by step in creating an original, fully-structured, compelling adventure novel—in one school year (two semesters). The program’s unique approach to writing begins where many writing courses don’t go at all, with an exploration of Story. Students learn the basic elements that make stories fulfilling and meaningful and how to identify and use three-act story structure and the basic fictional modes. They read Anthony Hope’s foundational The Prisoner of Zenda and excerpts from other classic adventure novels, and, most importantly, complete their own original novel!
The course, taught by award-winning author Daniel Schwabauer (Masters of Creative Writing, University of Kansas), takes approximately 120 hours to complete and is worth one full high school English credit as a Creative Writing program.
Students should complete the One Year Adventure Novel course, understanding and applying basic elements of storytelling in the creation of a rough draft of a unique adventure novel in one school year (two semesters).
- Learn the basic elements that make stories fulfilling and meaningful.
- Understand three-act story structure.
- Recognize and practice the basic fictional modes.
- Complete their own original novel of 15,000–24,000 words.
- The five elements of story
- Character roles and depth
- Conflict (disaster &dilemma)
- Story structure (acts & scenes)
- The four defining moments of every story
- The novel outline: twelve chapters and their characteristics
- How to write -writing a novel rough draft
- Creating emotion and the illusion of reality
- Modes (summary, detail, dialogue)
- Various techniques of fiction (character masks and handles, the unexpected, cliffhangers, etc.)
Grading is based on 26 weekly quizzes and the parent educator/teacher’s evaluation of the lessons in the workbook and the student’s rough draft of a novel. The teacher’s evaluations are simple rubrics explained in the Teacher’s Guide. Weekly quizzes impact the student’s final grade about as much as a single lesson. The final draft of the novel in the second semester has slightly more impact on the final grade than the lessons in the workbook.
Students read through Anthony Hope’s classic adventure novel, The Prisoner of Zenda, as well as the textbook (The Compass).
They also read excerpts from other classic adventure novels. All excerpts discussed in the course are printed in the textbook. Some of the excerpted novels are also available in full as PDFs on the Resource disk/Resources section of the Cloud platform. Reading the complete texts is optional.
Excerpted in textbook but not available in full:
The Man-Eaters of Tsavo–Lieut.-Col. J. H. Patterson, D.S.O.
The Man That Time Forgot–Edgar Rice Burroughs
Runt the Hunted –Daniel Schwabauer
Ghosts of the Past Haunt Us –Daniel Schwabauer (newspaper column)
Available in full (those in bold are excerpted in the textbook):
A Christmas Carol–Charles Dickens
Badge of Infamy–Lester del Ray
Black Rock–Ralph Connor
Captains Courageous–Rudyard Kipling
The Gift of the Magi–O. Henry
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn–Mark Twain
King Solomon’s Mines–H. Rider Haggard
Rupert of Hentzau–Anthony Hope
Tarzan of the Apes–Edgar Rice Burroughs
That Printer of Udell’s–Harold Bell Wright
The Blood Ship–Norman Springer
The Jungle Book–Rudyard Kipling
Treasure Island–Robert Louis Stevenson
Wulf the Saxon–G. A. Henty
At the end of the school year, students will have the option to enter their completed novel into our annual Student Novel Contest. The deadline is usually in mid-August. For further details, please read the contest webpage: (https://clearwaterpress.com/oneyearnovel/events/young-writers-novel-contest/)
Additional Support Resources
Throughout the school year, Mr. Schwabauer runs a series of optional live streaming meetings, offering coaching on more complex story concepts and addressing extra writing topics such as offering critique to fellow writers, pursuing publishing, etc. These webinars include a chat feature so students may ask questions. For more information on how to view a webinar, please see: https://clearwaterpress.com/oneyearnovel/events/webinars/
Participation in our closed online Student Forum is optional,but encouraged. (For an overview of the forum, please see: https://clearwaterpress.com/oneyearnovel/student-resources/forum-overview/) It will be especially helpful for students to post excerpts of their work in the critique boards and review the work of their peers. The process of analyzing another student’s work is an excellent way for a young writer to learn to recognize what works and what doesn’t work in fiction. Seeing it in someone else’s work makes it easier for the student to see the strengths and weaknesses in his or her own.
About the Instructor
Daniel Schwabauer, M.A., is editor of Crosswind Comics and creator of The One Year Adventure Novel, Byline and Cover Story writing programs. His professional work includes stage plays, radio scripts, short stories, newspaper columns, comic books and scripting for the PBS animated series Auto-B-Good. Daniel’s young adult novels, Runt the Brave and Runt the Hunted, have received numerous awards, including the 2005 Ben Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Children’s Literature and the 2008 Eric Hoffer Award. The series concludes with The Curse of the Seer. He graduated from the University of Kansas Master’s program in Creative Writing in 1995. He lives in Olathe, Kansas, with his wife.
The Lesson Table is only available in PDF format. It shows lesson topics and creative pieces the students write. It breaks the lessons down to show you natural breaking points in the course. If you don’t plan to cover 3 video lessons per week or if you have to plan around trips or holidays, these natural breaking points should help you choose good places to pause.