Knight’s helmets, cake making and what really matters – how to write a story – Writers Camp part 2

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Today is author day! Deborah Abela, James Roy, Suzanne Gervay and our writer in residence Simon French join us today to pass on their genius and help our young writers on their literary journey.

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Camp Diary, Thursday 4th September 2014

9.45 am: I am sitting now with the inspiring and dynamic Deborah Abela and she is making a cake…. Well she is using cake making as an analogy for writing. The key ingredients being characters, a setting and plenty of disasters to befall them. The students are right now deciding on mega problems to befall their characters. So far we have had suggestions of the room catching fire, spiders falling from the roof and Deborah Abela turning evil. Character development is crucial and Deborah uses the mantra “show, not tell”.  Show the layers of your character through the narrative, and avoid telling of their traits directly. The students are now having to develop a clumsy fairy character without using the words ‘fairy’ or ‘clumsy’!

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Grimsdon is Deborah’s environmental novel born out of frustration at global governments and the massive knights helmets used to protect London from flooding. Love it!

The Thames Barrier – Photo from

11.30am: What a recess we just had! James produced his ukelele and my guitar ended up in the hands of some very talented students and music was born! Nice work Kara and Charlotte and the chorus line of everybody else who sang Riptide by Vance Joy beautifully!

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11.45 am: I am now sitting with James Roy and about 15 students discussing our favourite pixar films. James has a fantastic ability to engage students and make them laugh. Pixar have 22 rules of storytelling that James thinks are pretty darn good.  He just shared a very short story/joke that evoked a giggle in everyone. “Dwarf shortage.” Politically correct? Probably not.

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James has distributed some story starters – here is a selection that will trigger emotions.

“I bought the coolest phone on the planet – but it still only rings as often as my old phone did.”

“I have a few unusual talents that I keep hidden because it makes me uncomfortable to stand out in a crowd.”

I’m still in love with her. I hope she reads this, and recognises my handwriting. This is also my last try.”

1.45pm: In the old classroom with a crackling fire and the marvelous Suzanne Gervay. Suzanne has been with the writers camp since the beginning all those years ago and is still as emotive, dynamic and caring as always. She has suggested that we should make a plaque in her honour…. next year Suzanne!

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Suzanne has a way of including and engaging all students in her presence and empowering them to be creative. I have been so impressed with the insights and depth of thinking from all the students and Suzanne has managed to bring out even more of that in the young people present. Suzanne believes that stories need to be real and have heart. Her series of ‘Jack’ books embody this. She is pretty chuffed with herself that she has just finished the 4th and final Jack book. The Jack books will also be made into a television series. Very cool and brilliant news for readers!

She is exploring what really matters to all of us right now and we have hit on bullying and the power struggles that go on in the school playground and the global playground – many of which are causing some of us to fear and despair. These are the topics that Suzanne wants us to write about. The topics that really matter and that we care about, topics that reach into the core of your beliefs and thinking and require risk to write.


15 Comments on “Knight’s helmets, cake making and what really matters – how to write a story – Writers Camp part 2

  1. Great journal from day 2! Sounds and looks like they are all having a great time 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for the updates – looks and sounds like there is much warmth, creativity and sharing happening … such an incredible opportunity!

  3. Love being able to see and read what fun my young writer is having at camp. Thankyou !

  4. Oh this is wonderful! I bet they are all having a brilliant time! Wish I could be there too, pics are fantastic!! Thank you for sharing 🙂 Miss you Klaudia, see you later today and I hope you’ve had an amazing experience. One you’ll never forget I bet 🙂 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment Bianca and I hope Klaudia enjoyed herself and sleeps well tonight! Steve.

    • You are most welcome Grace! Good luck with your writing and finishing primary school.It was special for us to have so many creative people like yourself at Brewongle last week. Steve.

  5. Thank you for providing such an amazing and inspiring experience for our writing obsessed children. Hannah had a wonderful time and is enthusiastically (and continually!) sharing her camp time with us. I thought she loved writing before….I now prepare for an increased rustling of paper and the furious scribbling of ideas…thank you!

    • You are most welcome. I am so glad Hannah had a rewarding time – We loved having so many creative souls with us sharing their insights and writing skills. Tell Hannah we would love to read any of her writing – please send it in! Steve.

  6. Thanks for Writers Camp! It was heaps of fun and I made tons of friends! The food was great, the activities were fun and the authors made the whole thing even more fun!

    • So glad to hear you had a fantastic time Tarsha – thanks for coming! Steve.

  7. Pingback: Best Brewongle Blogs of 2014 #eecnsw #DECNSW | Brewongle Environmental Education Centre

  8. Pingback: Last call for Writers Camp nominations – Stage 3 students. | Brewongle Environmental Education Centre

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