My Path to Becoming a Published Teen Writer
A National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Experience
This blog was written by Joi T., 12th grade Florida Virtual School Flex student in Miami
“You can make anything by writing.” – C.S. Lewis
As I began my journey to become a teen author, I imagined new worlds, exciting adventures, and a story my peers could relate to. I loved seeing myself in the characters I read and watching how they could overcome any conflict that arose in their lives. However, I felt like I was not always represented by those characters. So, when I was invited to participate last year in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) by my Florida Virtual School (FLVS) English teacher, I was ecstatic.
Embracing the NaNoWriMo Challenge
My first question was, “What is NaNoWriMo?” Simply put, students aim to write a portion of their story every day, and ideally, when they reach the end of the month, they have a completed novel. Although I was excited, I was a bit reluctant to participate because while I enjoyed writing, I never imagined writing and publishing a book of my own. After thinking it over, I decided to give it a try even if nothing came of it.
Creating an Outline Shaped My Novel
In English class, most students are taught to create an outline before writing their story or essay. Most students, myself included, don’t think an outline is a relevant part of writing. Yet, it was the first thing I did when I was planning my novel. I asked myself, “What do I want my novel to look like? What is my end goal?”
These simple questions helped me discover what I wanted to write about. I went on to fill in the blanks by finding out what I was missing in other stories I read. I wished my books had more representation, superpowers, and action, which is precisely what I included in my outline.
Finding My Voice
My next step was creating my characters and their personalities to contribute to the story I was building. Learning my own writing style and giving my characters a voice of their own was a big part of bringing my fictional world to life. For instance, I added words that made certain scenes feel more suspenseful or more exciting. Other times, I changed the way a character spoke depending on their job or personality. I put it all together and typed away on my laptop almost daily, taking certain scenes out and adding others. I made sure to set a word count goal. Some days I did not reach that goal, which was totally okay as long as I never gave up.
My Decision to Publish
At the end of the month, I was nearly done with my novel, which had about 30,000 words. I told my mom I was almost finished and she asked me what I planned to do with my story. The thought of having other people read my novel never crossed my mind. I was just writing because I liked to write. But I had already done most of the work, so why not publish my novel? I could give others the representation I was seeking and inspire people to let the world hear their stories.
The Power of a Book Title
Once I figured out the publishing process and completed my final draft, which had about 39,000 words, I needed to pick a title. To me, the title of my story was one of the most important features. I needed to make sure I chose one that would entice teens to pick it up and read it.
I brainstormed, thinking about my story as a whole, and I came up with “The Tale of Lamar A. Love: We’ll Be Alright.” In my novel, the main character, Lamar, lives with his foster siblings, Robyn and Eminissa. One day, unexpected guests reveal that Lamar is not who he believes he is – he is so much more. Lamar, along with Robyn and Eminissa, must overcome obstacles that will change their lives forever.
Continuing My Journey
Being a teen author for the past year and a half has been an amazing journey. Learning how to self-publish on Amazon has been a huge part of that journey. Amazon is one of the most popular companies right now, and selling through them was intimidating at the start. After watching tutorials and following the detailed instructions provided, it was not as scary as I thought it would be. I simply created a Kindle Direct Publishing account, sent in the necessary payment information, specified the sizing I wanted, and uploaded a copy of my manuscript and novel cover. It took a few weeks to get everything ready for publishing, but it was a very educational experience that I am happy I got to be involved in.
I have learned a lot about myself and about what teens look for in the books they read. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet other authors and students who are also interested in writing. I hope to continue to grow and pursue my love for writing as I prepare to finish the sequel of “The Tale of Lamar A. Love: We’ll Be Alright.”
This month, students in the FLVS Creative Writing Club are invited to celebrate NaNoWriMo and set a goal to write over 1,000,000 words. The club has provided a document with more information and resources about NaNoWriMo, as well as instructions on how to participate. The club is open to all writing levels (new authors are welcome!) and provides an outlet for students to express their creativity, socialize, and collaborate through writing.
Florida Virtual School students in grades 6-12 who are interested in joining the Creative Writing Club, can visit the Clubs and Activities page to learn more.
Enroll Now in Florida Virtual Full Time Public Schools
Are you interested in enrolling in Full Time? You can do so during the open enrollment period, which runs through November 9. To learn more about Full Time, FLVS Flex individual courses, or other options, please visit our School Options page.