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Take This Dare - Write a Novel

November 01, 2017

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November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWrimo challenges wannabe authors to devote a few hours a day to start and finish a novel in just 30 days. Young writers like you can get in on the fun, too. While adults are asked to commit to writing 50,000 words (which breaks out to 1667 words per day), kids can commit to writing any amount -- an hour, a page, a poem or a cartoon each day, or a complete short story, graphic novel, novella, play, screenplay, or even a whole novel in a month. Can you rise to the challenge?

Your Novel is CallingYour Novel is CallingCourtesy of NaNoWriMo

100,000 reasons to write

Every November, more than 100,000 people commit to writing a novel in 30 days. You may ask "But WHY?" And if you do, that's a very valid question. The short answer is "Because you can!" Everyone has a different reasons for wanting to write a novel, and they're all valid. If you love to write, if you want to become a better writer, if your head is filled with ideas, or if you want to let the voices in your head have their say for once, there's never been a better time to start writing than TODAY.

Download this badge and share it with pride!Download this badge and share it with pride!Courtesy of NaNoWriMo.org

It takes 30 days to build a new habit

In a TED Talk, Matt Cutts explains that 30 days is just enough time to add a new habit or subtract an old one, and November lasts exactly 30 days! Matt joined NaNoWriMo one year and wrote 1,667 words every day, which added up to a 50,000-word novel. He committed to getting the words down, not editing or worrying about what he wrote, until he reached his goal. "The secret is not to go to sleep until you've written your words for the day," he explained. Of course, he admits that his book is not the next Great American novel. "I wrote it in a month. It's awful!" But for the rest of his life, he can boast without lying that he is, in fact, a novelist. And if you can commit to 30 days of writing, you can say the same thing!

Adults are asked to set a goal of 1,667 words per day, or 50,000 words in a month, but that's probably too much for most young writers. After all, you have schoolwork, sports, after school activities, homework, and bedtime taking up most of your waking hours. If you can commit to writing a little bit every day, you'll end up a NaNoWriMo winner, no matter what you write!

Write a story in 30 days? No problem!

"Anyone can write a novel. You don't even have to know how to write a novel to write a novel. You just have to have a few ideas, some paper, and a pen. It's as easy as that." -- the NaNoWriMo team

It's totally okay if you don't have an idea to start. You can use an online idea generator to get you started. Scholastic has a fun, silly idea generator on their site you can check out. Story starters are another good way to get inspired. 

A prompt can help jump-start your plotA prompt can help jump-start your plotCourtesy of NaNoWriMo.org

Another way to get an idea of what to write is to think about three to five of your favorite books -- even picture books you liked as a kid. Think of the things you really liked about those books. Then think of things that would have made them even better. You can also think of your least favorite books and what you didn't like about them. It helps if you write this exercise down and keep your answers handy as you write. It will help you get inspired and steer clear of any bad writing traps as your story unfolds.

Ingredients for your first story

Before you start, your story should have a protagonist (main character), something they want more than anything else in the world, and something that gets in their way. Add a setting, and you can get started!

Develop your characters by imagining their life outside the story.Develop your characters by imagining their life outside the story.Courtesy of NaNoWriMo.org

Many young writers find it easier to take existing characters and worlds and build new story lines around them. That's called Fan Fiction and it can be an easy way to launch your writing really quickly. 

If you're still looking for inspiration, visit NaNoWriMo's Young Writer's Program website and sign up. If you get stuck, visit the Dare Machine on the Young Writer's Program website, where you can get a writing prompt at the click of a button. 

Move your plot along by asking and answering questionsMove your plot along by asking and answering questionsCourtesy of NaNoWriMo.org

Will it be any good?

If you're writing every day without editing or stopping to criticize what you wrote, chances are it may need a lot of work once you put in your final word count at the end of the month. But many writers feel that committing to writing every day for a month is just what they need to build a writing habit and help unleash their creativity. 

In fact, many successful Young Adult books were actually started as NaNoWriMo projects, including:

  • "Fangirl," by Rainbow Rowell
  • "Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress," by Marisa Meyer
  • "The Forest of Hands and Teeth," by Carrie Ryan
  • "Persistence of Memory," by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  • "Take the Reins," by Jessica Burkhart

Of course, after November 30th, the authors went through the additional commitment of completing, revising, and editing their work, then submitting it to agents and publishers for consideration, but it was the NaNoWriMo challenge that gave them the push to start!

Print this mini calendar and check off each day you meet your writing goal.Print this mini calendar and check off each day you meet your writing goal.Courtesy of Monda@NoTelling
Have Your Say

What about you? Will you take the NaNoWriMo challenge this year? What will you write? Share your story in the comments below.