A Glimpse into Alexandrya Sheppard’s Portfolio

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At Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance (KM Perform), Writing Focus senior Alexandrya Sheppard has successfully completed her portfolio. A portfolio project is a completely original project that encompasses everything the student has learned throughout their high school experience. Sheppard decided to write a novel entitled The Queen’s Gambit. 

 

The Queen’s Gambit tells the story of two young women, Talia and Naledi, whose lives are nothing alike, yet are drawn together by forces they cannot control. Talia Fischer is a 17-year-old immigrant who fled her toxic family to make something new of herself on her own terms. She hides behind a false name and story, letting no one know exactly where she came from. Naledi is the same age as Talia, a girl who is about to become the ruler of the country of Kouya, inheriting the title from her mother. When Talia is caught stealing from a noblewoman, she is brought before the queen. Talia is then sent to find the “runaway” princess, and the story takes off from there. Neither of the girls seem to have all their cards on the table until the very end. 

 

Sheppard initially created the first version of the main characters her freshman year, and has developed them ever since. The story came into play during a graphic novel class. “…but I wasn’t confident enough in my drawing abilities to do a full length graphic novel. . . I decided to turn it into a piece for Creative Writing, but it got too big a project for that, so in the end I decided to make it my portfolio.” 

 

Anyone who has been through the portfolio process knows that there are many challenges to overcome. “Most of my challenges involved writer’s block. I knew what I wanted to happen and where I needed the story to go, but I couldn’t for the life of me [take] the story in that direction. I had bigger action scenes written, but I didn’t have [anything] in between those big scenes.” To overcome those challenges, Sheppard said that she took time and forced herself to get out a first draft or work on something else until she felt ready to come back to it. “Writer’s block is practically a constant in my writing process. When I got stuck, or got bored of looking at the same two characters for hours on end, I would usually just move to working on a different project, like some of my Applications projects, or  . . .my website.” 

 

Sheppard is currently in the publishing stage of her novel. She read excerpts from her novel at the Writing Focus Portfolio Showcase in May.