This year I'm working with a class of 15 home-schooled kids, ranging from grades 5 to 10. Of the 15, five completed NaNoWriMo for the first time in November 2014; the others have written one to four previous novels. This year the first drafts range from 5,000 to 65,000 words. (Yes, I said sixty-five thousand! The adult goal for NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words and I have two students in grades 7 & 8 who wrote over 50,000!)
For those of you new to my story, I'm an author/editor/educator working with home-schoolers in a year-long novel writing class. In September and October we plan our stories. Then, using the Young Writers Program (NaNoWriMo for students) website and resources, students pound out their word counts. We party in December.
From January to April we're involved in what I like to call professional-level revision and editing. I teach them everything I know and they absorb it as they're ready and capable. When they have a clean first draft, I read and edit, and we go back and forth until the novel is polished (though I'm a firm believer in retaining the student's voice throughout).
In addition, we come up with cover concepts (using clip art, purchased photos, or the students' own art & photography), dedication pages, illustrations (if the author wants them), and author pages. Then we send everything to our publisher/graphic designer at Third Place Press, and he does his magic. By May we have final covers and manuscript galleys to approve; and then the books are published and delivered to us by the last week of school.
I like to document the journey by saying a few words about each novel, so stay tuned over the next couple of months as I read and edit each one. I have been consistently surprised and amazed by the writing produced by my students (they did, after all, inspire my own novel, "My Own Magic"). FYI, this is the fifth year of our Novel Writing adventure! Our school library already boasts 50 student-penned novels.
I will post these blog entries on FaceBook and Twitter, but I encourage you to leave comments and messages here on my website if one of the students' writing moves you. They may be young, but they are REAL authors and grow more courageous with your positive feedback!