One week left to prepare with students - the Young Writers Program web site is very helpful, especially the middle school "young novelist workbook" that has many terrific brainstorming activities (to develop characters, conflict, plot, setting, etc.). Example: Some students have expressed bewilderment, concern, despair, outrage, etc. at my pronouncements about NaNoWriMo, but they diligently filled out the character questionnaires in the workbook, and a few looked up from their workbooks to whisper, "this is fun!" I've found the workbook useful for ME and have recommended it to at least two adults who plan to participate in the full NaNoWriMo program (50,000 words oh yeah!!!). Did I mention already that I've assigned 3000 as the word count goal for my students, and my own goal is TWICE the highest word count achieved by any student? Yep.
Another fun feature that has piqued student interest and, dare I say, excitement, about writing is the "Dare Machine" on the Young Writers Program web site homepage. Each click on the "DARE ME" button generates a new writing challenge. Examples: "We dare you to have some of your characters stage a jewel heist." "We dare you to include a reference to the Periodical Table of Elements in each of your chapters." "We dare you to include a bucket of raw fish, an ice cream maker, and a creepy basement in the next page of your novel."
Happy writing to you all!
PS - I just read good middle school novel by Western New York writer Mick Cochrane, The Girl Who Threw Butterflies. I met Professor Cochrane at local bookstore book signing last June - super nice guy, just as he was described by my friend H who was his student at Canisius College.