Friday, October 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo -- It's ON, baybee!

It's almost National Novel Writing Month time again and my students and I are participating once again. We've been talking dialogue, character development, plot, and description this month, doing a bunch of mini-essays (about 250 words) focused on each of those novel aspects. 
This week, we started really talking about the requirements and what we'd be doing. Some of their eyes got as big as saucers when they realized I was serious about this writing throughout November thing. (What, did they think I was just pulling their leg? Sheesh.) Some of them practically danced with excitement even after I told them about the word count goals (While they could set their own goals, the minimums are: regular English students -- 5,000 words; Honors English -- 10,000 words). Probably 95% of them think 250 words is a huge piece of writing, so anything in the thousand range is incredibly intimidating to them. But we broke it down into daily word counts, and they breathed a little easier. Plus, I've got a 50k writing goal, which shocked them a bit (they didn't realize how many words made up a book until we started talking about it).

Next, we wrote up a quickie plot outline. I shared mine with them, so they had an example (I got a couple, "I'd read that, if it was a book", which did my heart good -- yes, I'm a sucker for a compliment, especially from people in my target audience. Fingers crossed, right?). I was just looking for a beginning, middle, and end -- just enough to for me to know that they had a starting point (it's that first step that's the hardest...) and that they had a direction. 

After I was done with my mini-lesson and released them to do their own thing, there was immediately a buzz of conversation. I loved it because even the students with the deer-in-the-headlights expressions loosened up and started to get into thinking about writing! So cool. And so many great ideas! I can't wait to see what happens in November and what my students produce.

NaNoWriMo is a fantastic experience. Which is why I don't understand how some authors can blog about how much they hate it or how useless it is or how they'd never ever do it. Okay, I get that you're entitled to your opinion but do you have to put down NaNo and those who participate in it? Sure, there's a ton of junk words produced throughout November. Sure, some people turn around and send that junk off to agents or self-publish it without rewrites or edits or anything. But, for the most part, it's just people out there having a great time, writing. There's a fabulous sense of camaraderie between NaNo participants that encourages and inspires.

If you're interested, you can sign up here: 
If you've got a young writer or are a young writer, check this out (It's what my students and I use. There are fabulous forums, challenges and dares, word wars, and even virtual classrooms! So cool.): 

Hey, buddy me if you'd like! I'm MaryBrebner on NaNo and would love to see you there. Happy writing!

1 comment:

  1. I love NaNo - so much fun! I haven't done this with my students (they're a little younger) but it's SUCH a good idea! :)