I know, I know. I can read the small print. NaNoWriMo’s BRAVE THE PAGE’s subtitle clearly reads: “A Young Writer’s Guide to Telling Epic Stories.”
And if indeed, you are an elementary, middle school or high school writer planning to participate in NaNoWriMo in 13 days, or if you teach and/or work with and/or encourage such young writers planning to do the same, this book will not only guide and get you and/or your NaNoWriMo participants to the November 30 Finish Line; it ensures you’ll all keep keeping on in the 12 months that follow - revising, editing, submitting, connecting.
I offer an enthusiastic Thumbs Up to the authors, Rebecca Stern and Grant Faulkner, for delivering on their promise.
BRAVE THE PAGE (Viking, 2019) is a must-have/must-read book for any Young Writer planning to experience NaNoWriMo.
But here’s the thing.
BRAVE THE PAGE succeeds so well at informing, inspiring and encouraging young novelists, it’s a must-have/must-read resource for writers of any age, of any kind of story, NaNoWriMo-engaged or not.
I’m raising all five hand digits to wildly High-Five each author twice!
BRAVE THE PAGE proves the truth that when an adult needs to learn and understand a particular subject matter, say, how to write a story, he or she should begin by reading a relevant children’s book. 😊
So, a few FYI Facts concerning NoWriMo, pronounced na-noh-rye-mo, the annual, Internet-based “creative writing project” that has taken place every November since 1999.
• The goal for each participant: to write a 50,000 word manuscript. Writers, called “Wrimos,” intentionally focus on quantity vs. quality so they’ll have a first draft from which to work in subsequent revisions.
• The NaNoWriMo website offers resources, encouragement, tips and connections to a supportive community of writers. Twenty-one Wrimos participated in 1999. Today NaNoWriMo boasts 798,162 active novelists and 367,913 completed novels.
NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program offers a bounty of resources for the under-18 young writers and the K-12 educators who encourage them. For instance, writers can use an on-site writing space, Young Novelist Workbooks and Novel Notes for brainstorming, character sketching, research, etc. There’s also Camp NaNoWriMo. And young writers can indeed alter their word count – 1,000 words a day or even 20,000.
BRAVE THE PAGE is the latest offering from the Young Writers Program. The NaNoWriMo-experienced authors know first-hand the writing process, the elements of story, a writer’s inner story and journey plus a whole host of tools that concretely instruct and guide. As important, they know their audience of young writers and how best to reach (and teach) them.
The Table of Contents scaffolds the content perfectly:
• An introduction in which award-winning author Jason Reynolds likens writing a story to the experience of moving – “Pack, load, journey, unload, unpack. That’s a novel.” - plus a warm and grounding welcome to NaNoWriMo and its participants.
• Part 1: GET READY
• Part 2 GET SET
• Part 3: WRITE!
• Part 4: NOW WHAT?
The meaty, timely issues and questions presented within each of the four parts are truly those of any writer, young or once-young.
• Where do ideas come from?
• What kinds of writers are there?
• How does one create a writing routine?
• How does one plan a story?
• How best to recruit characters and plot a plot and build a story’s world?
• How best to begin?
• What can be done when doubts and fears appear?
• Oh, and what about what follows when the end is reached? How to edit and revise? How can writers keep writing?
All of the above, and then some, are answered and addressed by (1) several of today’s beloved children’s book authors (John Green, Marissa Meyer, Jennifer Niven, Daniel Jose Older, Danielle Page, Celia C. Perez, Scott Westerfield), especially in their affirming Pep Talks, (2) by numerous NaNoWriMo-experienced young writers and (3) via referenced children’s books familiar to all. For instance,
• From a Pep Talk by Marissa Meyer as to how to begin, “Write down the things you already love about your story. Or, start a list of what you like in other novels. Brainstorm challenges your protagonist could encounter. Create a story playlist. Visualize success.”
• “Set your word-count goal to something a bit longer than any story you’ve ever written before, but don’t overreach….Remember, you can always change your word-count goal halfway through story. – Simon, age 11
• On Third Person Narrators: “The narrator tells us the thoughts, feelings and actions of one or more character, using the pronouns he, she, and they. Number the Stars, by Lois Lory, is an example of a book told in the third person.
Fortunately, the authors included the Dare Machine, “a magical machine” of sorts from the Young Writers Program website that puts forth prompts, tips and exercises. In Part 1, the Dare Machine helps the writer begin; in Part 2, it helps the writer develop characters, create settings and figure out a plot. In Part 3, it helps the writer move the story forward. Part 3 also breaks the month down, and thus the writing – into weeks 1 through 4. And again, it does so purposefully and concretely.
For instance, concerning that Inner Editor who resides inside all writers,
“Close your eyes and picture that person.
Now draw that person.
Not take that picture and throw it a going-away part!
Then put that picture somewhere out of sight until you finish your draft.”
BRAVE THE PAGE provides a Writer’s Lair, a safe place to assess progress, and that all-important Rear View Mirror to assist with reflection.
And finally, I especially love how BRAVE THE PAGE encourages writers to find a mentor – a favorite book – that’s available 24-7, for free.
No matter our age, each of us has a story worth telling…and the right to tell it. But that blank page can be oh, so scary when we’re gathering the courage to tell our stories to the world, especially if we’re new to the writing process.
Thank goodness all storytellers now have BRAVE THE PAGE to guide their writing.
And, thanks to Jama's Alphabet Soup for hosting today's Poetry Friday. BRAVE THE PAGE is certain to serve up a whole lot of delicious food for thought.
Happy story-telling to writers of all ages!
Be sure to enter our Book Giveaway for Gwendolyn Hooks’ ONA JUDGE OUTWITS THE WASHINGTONS