Frequently Asked Questions
ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Napa Valley Writing Project will start up again in September of 2012. Teachers will be given information about the program at the beginning of the school year. Participation is completely voluntary. Teachers who decide to undertake the project will receive packets, including journals, worksheets and a teacher guide as soon as they sign up. This will be followed by an introductory class visit by the Director of NVWP, Laila Aghaie.
Teachers can design the program in the way that works best for their class. Some may require all students to participate. Others could make it voluntary. As long as the kids complete their projects before the end of May, they can start anytime during the school year. However, if the teacher wants to set a relaxed pace, they should allow for at least 12 weeks of writing time.
Most kids work on their books during free time, for example after work is completed. Some teachers set aside time during class. Many students also write at home. We recommend students create their novels in Google Docs, an online word processing program that can be accessed from any computer. It automatically backs up work and also allows multiple students to work on a single file at the same time (very helpful for writing partners.)
Most of the lessons for the kids happen in the first few class periods as teachers walk the young authors through the story planning process. Once the kids start writing, teachers can offer periodic guidance on other aspects of writing, such as dialogue, show don’t tell, and other key topics. Laila is available to visit classrooms for individual lessons, brainstorming, and general assistance at any stage of the process.
The type of story is up to the kids and the teacher. Our main focus is on short novels, but kids can also create graphic novels, poetry, scripts and short stories. Students are not expected to achieve the traditional length of a full novel. Most will write between 20 and 50 pages (double spaced). However, they’ll still follow the structure and style of a full novel. Kids can work individually or in partnerships. An entire class could even create a single book with chapters or short stories written by different students.
Illustrations are welcome, but keep in mind that the books will be published in black and white. If students want color interiors, that is fine as long as they understand that the cost of the book will be higher. However, the cover of the book can be in color.
NVWP’s main focus is on helping the kids to express themselves through writing. We also want them to experience the pride and satisfaction of seeing their words in print as they sign and sell their books. The level of editing is up to the teacher, but we highly recommend that students recruit a volunteer editor - for example a parent, relative, family friend or teacher – to help with basic copyediting. If any kids are not able to locate a volunteer, contact NVWP and we will find a way to make it happen. We also encourage kids to work in groups and give feedback on each others’ stories.
Once students are ready to publish, Laila will set up a class visit to walk the young authors through the process step by step. We work on the self-publishing site Lulu.com. It is also very helpful to have someone in the classroom that can help other students, so if some students are willing, we will do a special training session at the school to teach them how to publish.
We hope most students will be ready to publish their stories by the 3rd week of May, but in the end the deadline is up to the teachers. We can publish over the summer if some students need more time. We have book signings at Copperfield’s Books store every month year round, so they can do that anytime. The important thing is for the students to feel good about their efforts.
Remind students that they only need about 20 typed pages with double spaced lines to have the minimum length for an individual book. They may be further along than they think.
Kids can write at home and during breaks/free time at school to get ahead. Laila can come to the classroom for additional support. We can cover specific lessons or work with the kids individually or in groups to help them move forward. Please don’t hesitate to schedule visits. Shorter stories can be combined into a single book. If additional assistance is needed, let us know.
Each classroom will have its own online “Store” at the publisher’s website with all the kids’ books. They can order as many as they like. It takes 5-10 days to receive them. The cost is usually $6-$7 dollars each. We will offer a brief lesson during the publishing process on the business decisions students need to make if they want to sell their books.
We organize monthly book signings at Copperfield’s Bookstore, which they can sign up for anytime. They can also attend special events, such as ALPS Open House evenings and our annual Young Writers Festival. This year the festival will be on June 2nd at COPIA.
All these events offer outlets for the kids to sell their books. They just need to make some business decision. For example, how many books do they think they can sell, what would the cost be to order them in advance, how would they want to market their books, and what price do they want to set. This is completely up to the students.
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.