Village School sixth graders Lily Sind, Sean Champa and Kira Johnson completed their first novels during November, while meeting the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. The guidelines asked students to write 1,000 words a day or 30 days.
Sixth-grade English teacher Allison Sparks, who is also a writer, said she told her students that she was going to try to comply with the NaNoWriMo guidelines. “I struggle to write 1,000 words a day,” Sparks said. “Many of my students said they wanted to try. Three actually did and completed the contest! I was blown away.”
Sind’s book, titled Lost at Sea, is about a shy, introverted girl who is involved in a devastating boat crash. The heroine has to find her true inner strength and redefines herself by becoming adventurous under water.
Sind was asked about the toughest aspect of writing her 31,050-word novel. “Getting in my daily word count, because I was not confident in myself,” she said, but the most rewarding aspect of the writing was “the feeling of achievement with being finished—and that I wrote a book!”
Her peer, Kira Johnson, completed the 30,360-word Enchanted. The book is about “a third grader who is given a magical pocket watch by her grandmother that brings her luck,” Johnson said. The plot thickens when “she discovers that others are trying to take it away from her.”
Sixth grader Sean Champa wrote Containment Breach, a 25,000-word tale. “It was a cold and rainy night when Jim Harrison realized where he worked was not just a normal place to mop and clean,” Champa said.
He noted the most rewarding part of writing a novel was “finishing—it felt really good.” But he also said that “describing stuff was a close second.”
This was the 18th year of the challenge, called the largest writing event in the world, and the theme was “Your Novel, Your Universe. To Boldly Go Where No Novel Has Gone Before.”
“NaNoWriMo teaches you to believe that your story matters, to trust the gambols of your imagination. Our stories remind us that we’re alive, and what being alive means,” said Grant Faulkner, the organization’s executive director, who noted that that more than 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.
In 2005, National Novel Writing Month became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and its programs include National Novel Writing Month in November, Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In and the “Now What?” Months.
Visit nanowrimo.org for more information.
— Sue Pascoe