Q&A with Scope's Write-A-Story Contest Winner

Anna Starecheski

Alexander S. wrote this year's winning story for our annual Write-A-Story Contest. The contest challenged students to choose one of three first lines written by beloved author Gordon Korman and use it to write an original work of fiction. Alexander's story "NXTGen Evolution" is a suspenseful adventure about a plot to save the world from a horrible human-made disease. I got the chance to talk with Alexander about his story and his writing process. I hope that you'll share this interview with your budding writers.

Alexander S. from Zervas Elementary School in Waban, MA


Anna: How did you come up with your story idea?
Alexander: I looked through the three different sentence starters. The one that I was inspired by the most was the one that I chose, which was “The haunted science lab was more than just a nickname." I came up with the story from there. I'm very interested by the entire science fiction, post-apocalyptic genre, so I created a story that fit within that genre.

Anna: How did you develop the character of Dr. Kyle Wagner?
Alexander: The way I developed the character of Dr. Kyle Wagner was by adding other people in the environment around him. So with his brother Carlos, for example, the fact that Kyle hadn’t been in the daylight for so long, added to the fact that he hadn't seen anyone from his family for so long, really added another layer to his character.

Anna: How did you come up with your plot?
Alexander: I wanted to keep it interesting and engaging, so I started at the beginning and I moved from there in a way that felt logical, like going into the haunted science lab and then finding out what haunted it and then adding to the story off of that.

Anna: How did you know when to end the story?
Alexander: Besides the fact I was kind of running out of words towards the end, I felt the story was going on a bit too long and it was kind of losing its point. It might have lost a bit of its authenticity if I kept it going for too much longer.

Anna: How did you come up with the cool ending?
Alexander: So I came up with the ending by brainstorming possible endings and choosing the one I liked the most. The ending I chose was the one I thought I could do the easiest, be the best ending possible, and tie up all of the loose ends I had in the story while leaving the reader something to think about by creating some suspense.

Anna: How many drafts of the story did you write?
Alexander: I was constantly revising and scrutinizing my story as I wrote the first draft, constantly making changes and tweaking. Once I was done with that, I looked at my story as a whole and changed all the parts I felt needed changing.

Anna: Was there ever a point in the writing process where you got stuck? How did you get unstuck?
Alexander: There were some parts where I was like, "What do I do next? How do I keep it interesting?" But I managed to fill the in-between space where I got stuck.

Anna: Do you have any tips for other writers?
Alexander: So my advice for aspiring writers is to read a lot and write a lot, and find the story in everything, like books, movies, video games, board games, songs, etc. I think that can help you come up with your own stories.

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