This is my first “YA on Saturday” post, and I’m so excited! For those of you still learning the lingo, YA stands for Young Adult. In the book world, YA usually refers to ages 12-18. For my Saturday posts, you don’t have to fall in this age group to participate (not that I could enforce age restrictions via Internet!). My main goal is to motivate and inspire young writers, but any beginning writer might benefit from this information. So all ages are welcome!
Have you ever wanted to write a novel, but you weren’t sure how to start? Or maybe you started and later hit a writer’s block. Perhaps you gave up on the story because it seemed too hard, too impossible.
Whatever the reason, I’m here to offer hope. You can get started. You can get past writer’s block. You can write a novel.
Ready for the challenge? Then you’re ready for “Summer’s Ultimate Novel,” otherwise known as the SUN project.
Here’s a tentative schedule for SUN. Every Saturday in May and June, I’ll help prepare you for novel-writing. We’ll talk about brainstorming, themes, outlines, character charts, research, and more. Then in July, when the mind-numbing effects of school have worn off, you’ll start writing your novel. If you write a certain number of words everyday, you’ll have the first draft of a novel by the end of July (though you can keep writing in August if you wish).
It might sound impossible to write a novel in one month, but it’s not. The key is to write a rough first draft as quickly as possible. Certain tricks will help you do this, which I’ll talk about closer to July. For now, I just want you to believe in the possibility of this goal. It takes time and effort, but you can do it.
Motivation: Imagine going back to school in August and telling your friends that you wrote a novel! You will have accomplished something that many people will never do. And no matter how good or bad your first draft is, you will learn so much in the process. It will change your writing forever. If you’re a teenager now, you could be selling novels in a few short years.
Inspiration: 1) Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote her first novel at the age of thirteen. She was published by the age of fifteen and has since wrote several more books. 2) S. E. Hinton started writing as a sophomore in high school. She was seventeen when her first book, THE OUTSIDERS, was published. 3) Christopher Paolini began writing ERAGON at the age of fifteen. Four years later, he was a bestselling author. 4) Jennifer Lynn Barnes started writing novels when she was sixteen. She wrote GOLDEN as a nineteen-year-old, and it was published two years later.
The list goes on, but I think you get the point. These rare examples are meant to inspire, not to discourage you. It’s perfectly okay if you don’t publish a book by the time you’re fifteen! Publishing isn’t even the point of the SUN project. The point is to write a novel just for the sake of writing, for that warm fuzziness of achievement. Just so you prove to yourself that you really can write a novel.
Selling your first novel is not the norm. The average author has to write four novels before selling one (or so I’ve heard). The early novels are practice novels; they help get the kinks out so you can learn from your mistakes. That’s why it would be great to write your practice novels in your teen years. By the time you’re 23 and trying to pay off your college debt, you can sell that first novel! Not everyone can grow up to be a full-time author, and that’s fine. But writing is necessary for high school essays, college papers, and many careers. Learn the craft now, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble later on.
By this point, I hope I’ve convinced you to give the SUN project a try! If you’re signing up, leave me a comment (first names only, or a pen name). Of course, you don’t have to sign up to participate in the steps of the project—you can follow along secretly. But I would encourage you to voice your intentions. Be proud of your status as a writer! If you have questions, ask them in the comments; more than likely, someone else has the same question and would benefit from the answer. The more people who participate, the more people who will be on hand to motivate you in July. If your friends like to write, invite them to join too!
This week’s assignment (Ew, try to ignore how school-like that sounded): get a five-subject notebook, if you don’t have one already. Label the sections:
5. First Draft
If you already have ideas for novels, list them in the first section of your notebook. If you don’t have ideas yet, start brainstorming this week. Next Saturday I’ll talk about choosing the right idea to pursue. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions/concerns/suggestions! Have a great week!