Wednesday February 11, 2015 11:08 AM
More than 330 Genoa Middle School sixth-graders participated in National Novel Writing Month — NaNoWriMo for short — collectively writing 1,211,471 words.
Deanna McDaniel, Genoa’s media specialist, helped lead the NaNoWriMo writing challenge.
Traditionally, NaNoWriMo is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project where any adult can challenge themselves to write a 50,000-word rough draft of a novel during the month of November.
But NaNoWriMo also offers a young writers program that allows 17-and-under participants to set individual word-count goals.
McDaniel worked together with Genoa’s sixth-grade language arts teachers Tracy Jados, Emily Minney and Carly Young to create virtual classrooms through the NaNoWriMo young writers program.
Across the world, 4,132 classrooms in 51 different countries participated in the young writers program.
“For the whole month of November, I had students writing furiously the whole school day in the library,” McDaniel said.
Students used their lunch period and study halls to come to the library to work on their stories.
“As long as I had a free computer, I would let them in,” McDaniel said.
Rachel Wetherby said she liked coming to the library to participate because it’s her favorite place at the school. She wrote a fantasy story featuring prophecies and shape-shifting dragons.
“It all just came to me. I didn’t know what was going to happen until I typed it,” she said. “My friend helped me with my story and I helped her, too.”
Participants also took advantage of the school district’s new GoogleDrive accounts for students. Using GoogleDrive, students could work on their stories at home and on any mobile device.
Students took advantage of the technology by continuing their writing after school.
“About halfway through the month, I had a sixth-grader come shyly up to me and show me their smartphone with the Google app on it. He looked at me and said, ‘Don’t tell my parents, but I have been writing my story on my phone under the covers after they think I have gone to sleep!’ “
Student Jenna Owsiak, who authored a novel titled Missing for the program, said ideas for her story often would come to her as she was sitting on the couch at home watching television.
“I would write a couple times a day, whenever I thought of something. Sometimes I’d write 1,000 words a day. I’ll probably do NaNoWriMo again next year,” she said.
Every student who met their goal earned a code from CreateSpace, a publishing website, to receive five free copies of their novel in paperback form.
“Right now most students are in the process of editing their novels before they finalize the published copy and order their books,” McDaniel said.
Each paperback will feature a unique cover designed by the student and an ISBN number. McDaniel described it as “a book ready to sell.”
Student Hibba Hyajneh wrote a fantasy story called The 14th Star about two princesses and their two enemies.
“I read a lot of fantasy books so it was neat to be able to make one of my own. I’m really proud of it,” she said.
Some students didn’t even need the full month to write their stories.
Ryan Boerger wrote his novel, The Job, in only two weeks.
“It was the first story I ever wrote,” he said. “I think the experience made me a better writer and I plan on continuing to write.”