Getting her novel off the ground was hard, Trinity School of Texas eighth-grader Lauren Lenhart admits.
She’s working on a story about a 15-year-old girl living in small-town Pennsylvania who has to deal with growing up and her parents’ divorce.
“Whenever I first began the novel, because I just didn’t really know what I was writing about, it took me a long time,” Lauren said. “But then I was like, ‘Lauren, you have to write this.’ So finally, I just sat down and started writing random stuff. As you start writing, the plot kind of plays out by itself.”
Lauren and the rest of her class at the Longview private school are working this month to complete novels for English class. It’s a National Novel Writing Month challenge given to them by teacher Mellissa McCreary as she was looking for something different than the usual short story writing assignments.
National Novel Writing Month, abbreviated NaNoWriMo, began among a group of San Francisco friends in 1999. The monthlong project to write 50,000 words has spread worldwide and spawned several best-selling books, such as Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants.” But McCreary’s students have to finish only 25,000 words.
She said she believes they’ll make by the Nov. 30 deadline. (McCreary’s a little more unsure about her own NaNoWriMo effort.)
“They’re motivated,” McCreary said. “The first part was the hardest. That first week, it was 300 words. ‘How am I going to get to it?’ But now they’ve started doing it.”
McCreary keeps her students writing through encouragement and rewards. For every 5,000 or so words they write, they might get food from Chick-fil-A or a free dress day. She keeps track of their work as they write novels in Google Classroom, while giving them daily challenges for their writing. That could mean going back and adding similes or adding a scene where people are eating. She also talks to them about plots, motifs and dialogue.
So far, the books in progress are all over the place in terms of subject matter,…