Becoming an Accidental Teen Novelist

So you want to write a novel. I inextricably found myself in this exact position when I was 15 years old. Somehow after a few short years, I ended up with a published novel, a second book that followed shortly after, and multiple book awards—all as a teenager.

Since then, I’ve come across so many kids and teens who want to write books. But have you ever noticed how adults tend to assume you will do these things “when you grow up,” instead of right now? Have you ever told a relative you’re writing a book and the response was something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s cute”?

We need to spread the word that there are a lot of amazing teen writers out there who can become teen authors if they are only given support. So, in hopes of supporting and motivating young writers, I’d like to explain a bit about what starting my first novel was like and share a few fun sites for writers of all experience levels.

So usually teachers point new writers to technical writing sites about “the craft,” which explain all the rules of story writing, like “show don’t tell,” and how to form a story arc. All this stuff is helpful and nice, but it can be enough to scare away novel newbies. So, instead, here are some sites that were super helpful for my first noveling experience (fun and not-so-scary ones!):

  1. Seventh Sanctum

If you’re ever at a loss for what to write about, this site is full of random story idea generators. Even when not completely helpful, they’re always 100% entertaining. It even has a quick character name generator for those pesky character names you can never get just right.

I already had novel ideas stored away, but strangely enough, I actually chose to write my first novel on a whim. I heard about a novel contest my library was hosting to connect with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an international challenge to write a novel in 30 days. Honestly, I think what convinced me in the end was the pizza that  my library would provide

Seriously though, NaNo novels have become my life. One of the biggest problems writers face is not writing. Even one day away from writing can bring a novel to a halt. Giving myself a 30-day deadline keeps me accountable. This brings us to one of my favorite sites:

  1. NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program (YWP)

The great thing about YWP is that it’s for kids and teens writing NaNo novels. You get to choose your word goal for the month, and kids as young as kindergartners have participated. So we have no excuse, right?

Although YWP is pretty much the best thing that has ever happened to my writing, I’ve definitely had times during the 30 days when I’m just not feeling it. So:

  1. Written? Kitten!

This site shows you a picture of a kitten (or puppy or bunny) every time you write a certain amount of words! What better reward for writing is there? During NaNo where word count is king (write first, edit later!), this site is great motivation. On the flip side, if you need an adrenaline-inducing motivation instead, Write Or Die will slowly delete what you have written if you pause too long (okay, that one’s scary).

Even if you’re just thinking about writing a novel, check out those fun resources. Writing really is meant to be fun! And if you’re up for a challenge, try NaNo noveling with me, come November. You never know what could come of it.


Taken at Arapahoe Library District’s 2014 Author Open House

Published by laurenhallstrom

Lauren is the author of two CIPA EVVY award-winning novels, both written when she was a teen. She writes contemporary fantasy for tweens and young adults. She holds an undergraduate degree in English at Colorado State University and currently works in a public library. More often than not you can find her there - promoting lifelong learning, staring off into space, and dreaming up new stories.

2 thoughts on “Becoming an Accidental Teen Novelist

  1. I love this! It’s so cool that you were published as a teenager and this serves as inspiration to other teens who want to write. Plus, these are pretty cool websites. The title of this post is super catchy and makes me want to click and read.


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