Good news--the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program website for 2011 is up! You are probably familiar with the NaNoWriMo program--that is, the short-hand description for NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth, an online effort to encourage thousands of adults to write a 50,000-word novel in the space of a month (and November, one of those only 30 day months at that). It is supposed to be an intense writing experience, which I hope to do one of these years (but I don't think this will be the year).
However, my son would like to do NaNoWriMo this year. Fortunately for him, they have a great website that supports younger writers (who also get to work towards a smaller total word count). The site has countdown clocks and word counters and Internet badges and lots of cool stuff like that to attract students to the project. It also has some things to get them over writer's block, such as a Dare Machine, which "dares" authors to include certain things in their stories or try some fun writing exercises, such as having your characters write a novel about YOU.
But once November starts, much of the program is geared towards encouraging students to actually finish the novels they have begun. One way they do that is to have published authors send emails to the students with bits of advice or pep talk. And guess who will be sending some emails this year? None other than Christopher Paolini, who wrote the first of his famous Eragon series when he was 15 and was homeschooling. Now, with 25 million of his books sold worldwide, he is the hero among young writers, but especially among those who homeschool.
HOWEVER--even if you and your students/children aren't participating, there are still resources to check out. Of particular interest to teachers is their collection of hour-long lesson plans about many aspects of writing, including creating characters, developing conflict, writing good dialogue, choosing a setting that support the characters, and so on. Click here to see the full list of lesson plans available for high school students.