Student Spotlight

Short Thriller Published by Grade 12 Student Sophie Dunlap


In July and August of 2023, Sophie Dunlap wrote and published a short thriller called "An Elegant Crime". Sophie is an advocate for the practices of creative writing and believes that practicing the skill is good for one's creative expression. As part of an independent side project during the summer, she decided to write a thriller (as she herself is a fan of mystery). Sophie shared her story and process of how she went from the idea to the final masterpiece with us: 'Overall the process of writing and creating this text presented a combination of challenges, but also incredible new experiences. I had a character limit for each chapter in this book because of the way that one formats and edits on the website that I was using. Adding a character limit (especially when low) was infuriating at first however I believed it helped me significantly. To anyone who enjoys challenges or would like to start creative writing but doesn’t know how to shorten their mass of text: I recommend giving a word count to any sort of chapter, short story, or body of work. By doing this, one makes every word in a singular unit count. It requires the writer to stop, think, and slow down.

My inspiration for writing this book was driven from numerous sources; most notably, my love for novels, specifically mystery and thriller. After reading many thrillers, I found the plots connected to heists began to be recognizable. I wanted to devise a heist from the perspective of a “morally challenged” character. This story is about a man who steals a painting and while the character himself is not a fan of fine art, the author most certainly is. I find art history fascinating, and wanted to include it in the plot without making it the main focus of the book. The painting in Marcel Morano’s heist is not a real painting. It is rather based off of a few select paintings I love and the contents of my mind. I am an avid painter so creating a significant masterpiece in writing was a fun challenge. "An Elegant Crime" also includes my own artwork, which is shown on the left page of the start of every single chapter, including the epilogue. This was a way of adding my own individual character and design to this project. All of the artwork assists the narrative and retains hidden details upon closer inspection.
I share this project with the world as a way of conveying achievements that may not seem possible are within reach upon commitment and persistence. It is never too late to start the practice of creative writing. Short stories are a great way of expressing creative freedom, individuality, and practicing receptive expression. To any students out there struggling to find experiences for CAS, let “An Elegant Crime” be an inspiration to start writing. Like a true IB student I documented my planning/writing/publishing as a CAS experience. I supported my reflections with photos of my planning, time lapses of me creating the artwork, and more.

I am currently on a path to becoming a creative director in the future. One may notice this is not in full alignment with being an author. I believe that exploring options in different fields can form a better rounded perspective with more knowledge about alternative careers and how to collaborate with them. I am largely oriented in visual arts and writing studies and plan to continue with this in my college/university studies. Upon reflection of this project, I can certainly determine I will continue to practice writing, and publish another book in the future. I have utmost adoration for narrative and will take any opportunity to engage in the creation of it going forward. After completing my IB diploma, I plan to experiment in writing screenplays and performative works. While this will not be a focus of my higher education studies, experimentation always provides the opportunity for learning outcomes.

“An Elegant Crime” can be found in the Thalia online store and we wish Sophie many readers and many new books to follow!