A step by step description of

how a Levelty course is created

The new intermediate level Levelty course is under way, the work process has begun. Would you like to know how it is made? How we decide what the story will be? Or how we agree on the grammar items to teach? Join me in this step-by-step description.

This is a real-time report, so come back again and again to see where we are in the process.

Planning the course

Approx. 1 month

The very first step is planning. What do we plan?

1. We choose the topic of the story that the course will be built on. In this new course, the story will be from the world of work. Do you know why? Because we asked you in a questionnaire about your purpose of learning English. Many of you answered: “Because I need English for my job.”

2. The storyline is also decided. OK, the story will be set in the world of work. But it must be exciting, too! We need to keep you motivated throughout this Levelty course, so an exciting world needs to be created with lifelike characters, who love, hate and have many probems. It’s too early to tell you much about the storyline of the new course, but I can tell you one little secret: it is set in the near future, when the weather is controlled…

3. There is one more important thing that we agree on at the very beginning of the process: the level of the story and what grammar items we want to teach you. This new course will be at level B2, and has a very special concept as for grammar. We will show you not only separate grammar items but also a wider view of the system of the English language. Most coursebooks do not have this.

Planning the story in detail

Approx. 1 month

The next step is to plan the story and its elements in detail, to create a synopsys. If somebody reads the synopsys, they should get a clear idea about what the novel will be like.

A Levelty story must be fun to read, giving you a flow experience. This is where the process starts to get complicated. There are so many things that a writer must decide:

1. The outline of the story is the main thing that must be set in the synopsys. A beginning, a conflict and a resolution has to be defined with all the important steps between them.

2. Who will be the narrator of the story? The main character, who will tell the story from his point of view in first person singular? An outsider who knows all the characters equally? A person from the story or outside the story?

3. What’s the perspective of the story? Is it through the glasses of the main character? Or the antagonist? Or the narrator? Just think about it. The story of Snow White must sound very different from the point of view of the stepsisters – or the prince. 

4. The style, how the story is told, is more important than you would think. This is what creates that special atmosphere and a world you can see in front of your mind’s eye.

A novel is a long story, which needs to have a consistent style. But each characters must have their own style! You should recognise them by what they are saying and how they say it.

Ironic? Romantic? Philosophical? Casual or formal? The writer needs to find just the right balance. 

First draft

Approx. 2 months

Sometimes, the writer (in this case I, Kisanna) cannot decide all the elements of a book without experiments. It is useful to write a scene from different points of view, in different styles, and just see which one works best. 

Once all the basics have been decided, the actual writing process can begin. Which, again, can happen in many ways.

When I was writing the Hidden Movements story, I did it chapter by chapter. I planned the chapter and wrote it down, and already edited myself as I was writing. Before writing the next chapter, I edited it over and over, till it was 95% done. It was a linear process. 

With the new intermediate novel, I am not working linearly. I have the storyline in my head and when I have the inspiration for a scene, I write it down. The first scene I wrote down was the very first, opening scene. But the second one was well into the conflict. Then I went back to the beginning and then jumped to the end with the next one. So when I think of something, I write it down. I want the story to just flow out first. No editing. No deciding where the end of chapters will be, no elaboration of details. I don’t think twice about things, I write everything down as it comes out. I don’t try to hit the best style for the first trial, I don’t think about selecting the finest words. I just want to get the story and ideas out of my head, rough as they are. Like this, the next work phase will probably be the most exciting of all.

Second draft

Approx. 6 weeks

Once I have a big mass of text, with the story roughly ready, I can start working on “making it look like something”. The first draft is just like a bucket of muddy water and the novel needs to be like crystal clear drinking water in a beautifully shaped container.

First of all, I have to look at all the scenes I have and make an order. In the case of the new intermediate novel, I realised that the beginning was too long, for example. My hero discussed his problem (the starting point of the conflict) with three people and with himself. This took up two and a half chapters! So I threw out two dialogues, almost 10 pages. To the bin with it! 

Once the scenes are more or less in place, I need to define where chapters start and finish. If this wasn’t a Levelty novel, I would do this later. But as I need to concentrate on integrating grammar items in the chapters, I have to do it at an earlier stage. I don’t set these in stone, but I need an outline.

Then comes editing, editing, editing. This needs a cold heart, sometimes to the level of cruelty. No matter how much I wanted to have a certain scene, if it doesn’t go well with the flow of the story, I need to delete it. No matter how much I liked a character, if I find that such a personality would not do things I wrote down, I need to change either the person or the things they do.

During the second draft, I also have to make sure that the timeline works, that I don’t write a summer scene in the middle of winter happenings, for example. There are so many changes to make that sometimes I almost cry.

In this phase, characters gain more life, and this is very exciting. By this time, I feel the way they move, the way they talk, and I integrate it in the text. What they say stays more or less the same, but I work a lot on how they say it. When writing is going well, I don’t have to figure this out. They come to life in front of my mind’s eye and I just have to listen. Listen well and then write it down. Things like this make a writer happy.

In the first draft, I had a few dialogues with no context: there was no setting involved. It is so much fun to give body to dialogues like this! 

As you can see, writing the second draft can make me very emotional. This is the phase where it all turns out: will this be a good read or not? Will it be a whole? Will readers see what you see? Will characters, places be “alive”? Writers do their best 🙂

to be continued...

A bejegyzés szerzője

Szabó Kisanna vagyok. Az angol egészen kicsi korom óta az életem szerves része, csakúgy, mint az irodalom, az írás: irodalmár-nyelvtanár családból származom, s örököltem mind az érdeklődést, mind a motivációt. Éltem és tanultam az USA-ban és Nagy-Britanniában, számos nemzetközi művészeti és oktatási projektben dolgoztam - angolul.

A nyelvismeret átadásával az emberek kezébe hasznos eszközt adok, ezért is szeretek tanítani. A mondás nagyon találó, hogy „ahány nyelvet beszélsz, annyi ember vagy”. Hiszek az élményszerű nyelvoktatásban - ennek is köszönhetem kiváló eredményeimet és azt, hogy az óráim kitűnő hangulatban telnek. A leveltybooks-szal mindenki számára elérhető, izgalmas, érdekes, ugyanakkor tartós eredményeket hozó módját kínáljuk az angoltanulásnak – a nyelvtanulást, olvasásélményt egyesítve.