Tales Stand Tall

Did you know November is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month?

Within the mod decor of Genevieve Hug's sixth-grade language arts classroom at Ashland Middle School, 23 students were counting down the days until their deadline. Their first novels, 10 pages minimum each, needed to be ready for publication in 30 days. Student Tobin Mulholland captured the pressure well: "My skills as a writer are being put to the test."

Hanna Brehmer found the time limit "exciting."

"You just can't stop. You have to keep going, even though you are not always sure where you are going with the story."

On this day, young novelists were examining the difference between good and boring dialogue.

Did they learn anything about a given character from "Hey, dude. How are you?" Did this conversation draw them into the story? Do they care about this character? How does writing outside the dialogue add interest?

After much discussion, it was time to try out good dialogue. Students quickly filled their comic-book worksheets with conversations that enhanced their plots. Then they acted them out. Dialogue filled the room, soon to find its way into the students' novels.

An excerpt from student novelist Grace Johnson's untitled work: "Don't eat them (candy). They're as old as he is." Her character spits them out as soon as he finds a trash can. I tried not to laugh.

I'm hooked. Aren't you?

More information:

NaNoWriMo: ywp.nanowrimo.org. Free online publishing for students: www.studentpublishing.com/ See Hug's mod classroom at www.apartmenttherapy.com/a-colorful-sixth-grade-classroom-177304.

— Heidi Monjure

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