Children’s author Dave Rudden visited Challenger students in Coolock library, offering tips on how to write a novel. Sixth class students assembled for the Reading Club sessions which were from 5 – 6pm and another from 6 – 7pm on the 23rd of January.
Rudden told them about the process of writing his first book, ‘Knights of the Borrowed Dark.’ It is about a race of shapeshifting monsters and the warriors sworn to stop them. Students wondered how long it took to write (a year and a half with many re-writes). The qualities required to achieve this were patience, discipline and determination. “Write what you care about,” he advised them. “All you need is a little idea to get you started.”
Students were then given three minutes to fire off their imaginations by finishing the sentence, ‘I heard an awful noise and….’ Despite the short timeframe, tales of bloodcurdling creepiness and suspense quickly unfolded. The next segment looked at the stages of a good story. There should be four elements, in the following order: an introduction, a complication (where something happens to get the story moving), a climax (where this is solved) and a resolution (where the dust settles and how it affects the characters).
Next, the group discussed the importance of different characters and their significance. It was pointed out that novels always seem to feature heroic good guys locked in battle with villainous bad guys. Rudden agreed but said the lead character need not be a hero/ heroine. Making a central character quite flawed can be more intriguing and fun. And when formulating a plot, you should ask questions such as who, what, where, when, why and how.
Finally, Rudden presented scenarios that demonstrated the effectiveness of asking these questions, turning Challenger students into reporters. Afterwards, Ryan Cleary (12), from St Joseph’s school, in Bonnybrook, said he found the session both informative and helpful. Already a published writer, last October he was highly commended for a short story competition with Ireland’s Own magazine. “I write all the time, sometimes six pages a day, so it is great to be here,” he said. The workshop was also enjoyed by classmate Aleksandra Osipiuk (11), an avid reader with over 125 books, and Aveena Abraham, a writer of fan fiction who attends St Francis SNS in Priorswood.