Writing her own novel

As senior Alya Rehman immersed herself in Frances Hardinge’s “Fly by Night,” something dawned on her. “I want to do something like this,” she said.

Hardinge’s way with words inspired Rehman to complete her first novel, “SPLIT,” consisting of 20 chapters, in ten months. The title “SPLIT” arose from the protagonist, Kohaku’s, divide between her former family and her mission. A group of scout trainees set forth on a mission to retrieve a gem. In the midst of searching for a path, the characters need to face the struggle of choosing the right decision in view of an enemy.

“I tried to take everything that I’ve ever seen and mash it into one complicated plot line to make it something different, new and creative. A lot of times, I saw some good parts to a plot in most of the books I’ve read or that I watched, but not everything was good, so I tried to make everything good. I really tried to make the plot as twisted and intricate in my series and did what I could to weave the various genres together,” Rehman said.

Rehman wrote a chapter every two weeks and drew illustrations related to the story. Gaining about 100-180 views per chapter, she posted her works on DeviantArt for reviews. She would receive positive comments requesting for more chapters and encouraging her to continue writing.

“I was blessed with an audience that looked past the slight mistakes I made and emphasized what he or she liked, what I was doing right. To know that I was reaching that point where several people resonated with the message I was conveying, be it for entertainment or otherwise, was a huge motivator for me,” Rehman said. “The message gave me a purpose to write: to convey a feeling, sensation, philosophy or abstract concept to as many people as possible.”

At one point, someone critiqued one of the chapters, and gave her feedback about her narrative and how to improve her overall pacing and storytelling.

“That was one of the most memorable responses I’ve ever received to this day, and it helped me out tremendously. The comments probably made me keep going until the end,” Rehman said.

Her stories were written without an outline because she developed a deep background and understanding of all the characters. Rehman continued to search for ways to play with the character dynamics through writing to present each character with a purpose.

“I like immersing myself in something that’s not real. Once you start writing, you get into like a mindset like you are the character. You are multiple people, which is really cool,” Rehman said. “It’s really satisfying to be able to completely immerse yourself into that kind of situation, and then you basically can use your mind to see in different perspectives, which helps in more ways, not just writing.”

Her inspiration for writing came from her experiences during middle school. At that time, she was often misunderstood because she wasn’t sure how to express the right words when talking to other people. Writing helped her shape her words to become more comprehensive in communication.

“I tried to fix myself by investing myself in reading, and then I really liked the way words worked and the way that they can be perceived in different ways. I tried to master that manipulation so that I could be best understood by everyone I meet,” Rehman said.

Rehman aspires to take writing a step further by incorporating it into her interests of art, music, film and screenwriting. She also hopes to publish her own novel through a publishing company within the next five years.

“The fact that people took the time to look through my work closely is one of the reasons why I post most of the work I create,” Rehman said. “It’s heartwarming and humbling to be able to make someone happy or, at the very least, entertained, and to create something that someone else would willingly consider paying attention to. That itself is rewarding enough.”

By Eunice Lin, Staff writer

Photo by Sajid Iqbal