by Mr. Lakhaney

Personal Project Focus: Christian Trotti Writes a Civil War Novel

For his personal project, Christian Trotti wrote a historical novel that takes place during the Civil War. His final work, titled, A Brother’s Blood, ended up being over 100,000 words. He is currently looking for a publisher so that he can share his work. You can download and read the prologue to the novel here: Prologue of A Brother’s Blood

Below is an interview with Christian Trotti about his project.

1. Where did you get the idea for this project?

The idea of creating a historical novel about the American Civil War had been present in my mind since the beginning of the Personal Project. I have always been passionate about creative writing, especially in the form of short stories and poems. However, I had never embarked on writing a longer work such as a novel because I never felt I had the right opportunity or a significant amount of time to work extensively on it. When I was presented with the Personal Project, I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to write a novel, because it would force me to complete the task. I wanted to challenge myself and achieve something that I had never achieved before. As for the historical aspect of my novel, I chose the Civil War as the setting and main event because the Civil War is my favorite time period in American history. Ever since I visited the Battlefield of Gettysburg four years ago and read Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, I was inspired by the glory and horror of this bloody conflict. Therefore, I wanted to write a book that would inform people, especially students, about this significant time period while providing a dramatic and engaging historical fiction plot.

2. Can you describe the process of going from an idea to a finished product?

The process of going from an idea to a finished project was very difficult and lasted months. First, I needed to develop the basic plot of my book before researching information. I decided that the novel would focus on the story of two brothers whose opposing opinions on slavery would dramatically tear them apart in the face of the Civil War. The novel would portray their lives as they are raised together in the antebellum period, forge deep bonds, and then begin to separate. Then, the two brothers, despite their love for each other, join opposite sides as officers. From that point on, the novel switches between the brothers’ perspectives and follows their journey through the first few years of the war, up until the climactic Battle of Gettysburg. I felt that this plot would be the best way to convey historical information about the politics, ethics, campaigns and battles of the Civil War while still telling a dramatic story. Balancing historical accuracy and drama would become the focal point of writing this historical novel.

After I developed the basic plot, I began to research both historical information about the time period and creative advice on writing a novel. The historical research was very difficult because in order to write an informative historical novel, the writer must know each minute detail of the time period to truly convey the story. The Research Phase lasted two months for me.

From the creative writing research, I learned how to write a complete outline for my novel. This outline was an effective creative tool, for it enabled me to provide a brief summary of each scene of my novel before writing it. I was able to develop the complex plot and minute details of my story before writing. All ninety scenes in my outline appear in my final product. I could not have completed the novel without the guidance of the outline. The outline is about 15,000 words.and required a month for its completion.

After completing the outline, I began to write the novel, I started in December 2013 and ended in February 2014. This stage of the project, the Creation Phase, was the most difficult for me because it required extreme dedication and diligence. I forced myself to write for hours every week, even if I was not inspired, because I knew that habit and dedication were the only tools that would allow me to finish my novel in three months. However, although difficult and time-consuming, writing the novel was a fantastic experience. I began to experiment with literary techniques, such as the switching of perspectives between the characters and the dramatic irony of the battle scenes. Through this novel, I gained a new appreciation for both the historical time period and the craft of writing.

My novel is entitled A Brother’s Blood and it is 118,950 words long. It is the product of months of planning and hard work.

3. What are your future plans for this book?

My novel has already been copyrighted and I am currently researching publishing options. I want to submit my work to several publishing houses to hear their professional opinions on my novel. If I have no success with these houses, I will certainly self-publish the book and make it available to the public. I am eager to distribute my novel to my teachers and peers in BSGE and am excited to hear their comments. Since this is my first novel, and due to my inexperience in the field of professional writing, I am simply experimenting with different options. My primary goal is to hear creative feedback on my work.

4. Any advice for kids in the future about doing their personal projects?

My advice is to pick a topic that you really enjoy. If the topic of your project is something that interests you and engages your attention, you will not mind working on it. Instead, you will enjoy yourself and gain an even greater appreciation for your topic. Also, another piece of advice is to challenge yourself. This is the opportunity to create something that you have never created before and employ your human ingenuity in new and exciting ways. You should take advantage of this opportunity and be willing to work hard so that you can achieve an astounding success.

Read the other articles in our Personal Project Series:
Jamie Carroll raises money for charity by selling cupcakes
Maya Juman Photographs Invisible Beauty



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