Sunday, February 1, 2009

Review: The One Year Adventure Novel

All I can say is...WOW!

Never have I seen a more in-depth, engaging, challenging and altogether FUN writing curriculum than this one. (And believe me, as both a homeschool mom and former student, I've looked at and experienced many!)

The One Year Adventure Novel program developed by author, Daniel Schwabauer, contains everything your 8th-12th grade student needs to complete their first adventure novel during a typical 9 month school year.

This well-designed course, taught from a Biblical worldview, contains the following:

  • 78 lessons on 7 professional quality DVD's
  • Softbound textbook (The Compass)
  • Student workbook (The Map)
  • Teacher's Guide and Bonus Resource Disk containing quizzes, printouts and video FAQ's
  • A copy of The Prisoner of Zenda, by Anthony Hope

These outstanding materials provide the necessary fuel to spark a new author's imagination, while challenging a more experienced high schooler to take their writing to the next level.

From developing the main character, to editing for clarity, to the final stage of sharing their completed story with the world, Daniel Schwabauer strips away the layers of intimidation often associated with writing your first novel.

By using this DVD course for 1-1.5 hrs per day, 3-5 days per week, students will learn the aspects of effective storytelling and proper writing mechanics including;

  • The Heroic Quest
  • The Story Goal
  • Ideal, Theme and Premise
  • Dilemma
  • The Four Defining Scenes
  • Creating Emotion
  • Creating the Illusion of Reality (my personal favorite part!)
  • Dialog, and a whole lot more.
I love the fact that this course is taught by a published writer and not simply an “English teacher”. Not that you can't learn good writing from a quality teacher--that's not what I mean. Rather, I believe Daniel Schwabauer's experience and success give him an air of authority that others don't have. :o)

One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) provides instruction that goes above and beyond the parameters of a traditional writing program. Students read from a variety of great literature (14 novels in all, available on the Resource Disk), including classics such as Huckleberry Finn, Peter Pan and Treasure Island.

These stories, while providing plenty of inspiration, are carefully examined in order to gain a better understanding of what "makes a story, a story."

In fact, this program is so thorough, OYAN can be used as a stand-alone curriculum, or as a supplement to your current English program.

I took many writing courses back in school, and I remember learning many of the topics covered in OYAN. However, I wasn't taught everything in a single school year. While this facet may appear overwhelming at first, I later realized that it was rather smart on the Mr. Schwabauer's part.

The more seasoned young authors, or those students who require more of a challenge, are able to progress at their own pace, while beginning writers aren't limited in their knowledge or stuck waiting another year (or more!) to learn how to polish what they just wrote.

Another great aspect of OYAN (that may not be readily apparent at first glance), is the fact that it strictly limits the student to the elements of adventure writing. A potential student or parent may view this as creatively stifling, especially if they aren't fans of the adventure novels.

However, by placing such boundaries on the writing process, the student's creativity is better channeled. In fact, this provides greater freedom and less "writer's block" in the long run!

Here's a good case in point. One of the first exercises Mr. Schwabauer has the students complete is to write for 60 seconds on absolutely anything they want to. Puppies, flying in a rocket ship, sailing the seven seas; whatever. Next, the student is asked to write for 60 seconds about a man falling into a lion exhibit at the zoo.

At the end of the first minute, my daughter Sierra had absolutely nothing written down. Not one word! In fact, during that first minute she kept saying, “I don’t know what to write!" Ding! Time's up.

However, the assignment to write about a man falling into the lion exhibit produced a rough, dramatic paragraph. Our conclusion?

Free reign = No direction
Set Boundaries = Creativity (Big difference!)

Upon completion of the course, students are given the option of publishing their finished novels on the OYAN's website. (Talk about your perks!)

The One Year Adventure Novel curriculum retails for $199 and includes free shipping. While the price may seem a bit steep, keep in mind that it can be used by all of your children over the next several years. Each student will need their own workbook however, which can be purchased from the OYAN website for $25.

In addition to the included materials, your student will have access to the online Student Forum. This is the place where he/she can meet other OYAN users and get clarification on assignments.

I would highly recommend the One Year Adventure Novel writing course for any and all homeschooling families. In fact, I'm already planning to use this program with my younger two children in a few years.

Without a doubt, the One Year Adventure Novel earns 2 thumbs up. :o)

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