Junior strives to complete, publish full-length novel

March 27, 2015 — by Helen Chen and Spring Ma

During freshman year, a combination of boredom and creativity inspired now-junior Giulia Corno to begin a story that eventually became her first novel.

The storyline, set during the Reconstruction period in the South, features an orphan named Aurelia who wants to become a doctor. When she helps an injured angel, Aurelia becomes part of a prophecy that brings the two together on a mission to save their realm.

During freshman year, a combination of boredom and creativity inspired now-junior Giulia Corno to begin a story that eventually became her first novel.

The storyline, set during the Reconstruction period in the South, features an orphan named Aurelia who wants to become a doctor. When she helps an injured angel, Aurelia becomes part of a prophecy that brings the two together on a mission to save their realm.

Despite months of hard work following her initial decision to start writing, Corno was unsatisfied with the 200 pages she had written, so she decided to start from scratch by changing her novel’s focus to a different character. Corno said her initial protagonist did not have the confidence or powerful presence that she had originally envisioned.

Knowing that her new narrator had more potential, Corno wrote and rewrote several parts. Equipped with an “independent, resilient and stubborn” brunette named Aurelia as her new main character, Corno made sure the narrator conveyed the message that trust lays the foundation of a strong relationship.

“One thing that really messed with me at first was that I didn't have a name for [Aurelia] when I started writing,” Corno said. “To me, Aurelia’s identity was intertwined with her name. The second time around, I had a name for her, and that locked her character in.”

Nevertheless, Corno has planned most her novel down to her characters’ interactions with others. Her organization, however, is often overridden by her characters, who “have a mind of their own.”

“If you ever hear an author say characters write themselves, it is true,” Corno said. “Whenever authors’ notes said [that] characters were hard to work with, I didn’t think it was true until I started writing myself and many scenes just wrote themselves.”

Due to her love for both historical nonfiction and fiction, Corno said having an utopian setting allowed her to embed the basic events of Civil War into her plotline while also “twisting the details.”

Doing so also allowed Corno to incorporate angels and demons into her novel, a seemingly natural decision due to her love of flying.

With the help of her friends who have edited several rounds of drafts, Corno has made sure that what she writes is coherent to others. Corno said asking peers who understand her writing style and give honest feedback is especially important.

Junior Lisa Yu, one of Corno’s close friends who has edited Corno’s novel, said Corno’s attitude toward her work is inspiring.

“[Corno] is one of the most prolific writers I’ve ever met,” Yu said. “She’s always receptive to criticism and looks to improve herself and her work.”

Corno said one of her biggest challenges is to make sure her events happen chronologically and make sense to her audience.

Even though Corno said her progress has been limited due to a rigorous academic schedule during junior year, she is writing her ninth chapter out of an intended 32. She has yet to decide a title to the novel, but Corno is using “Conquering Trust,” as a placeholder until she finishes.

“The plot line is not completely finalized yet, but I like how I can be creative with whatever happens in the novel and end the book any way I want,” Corno said. “As of now, I want to write until I feel like I’ve reached a point where the main story is done but I can still branch off of it if i want to.”

Aiming to complete the book next year, Corno hopes to publish her novel with a company or an independent publisher after her freshman year of college.

Still, Corno said she does not plan to pursue creative writing as a full-time job; instead, she wants to minor in the subject.

“Creative writing is such a good outlet and a positive way to express myself in a way that other forms of art may not provide,” Corno said. “It's a little like painting, except with words.”

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