There were pirates, underwater spas, sea creatures with teal tinted scales, sharks with human bodies, death and vicious sting rays this week! Needless to say, some of your stories were epic. Congratulations.
A big shout out to everyone who entered from Tighes Hill Public School in New South Wales, Australia. You guys provided some real tension in your stories and a great sense of setting, making the heat from the beach really leap off the screen. Well done. From that school too come this month’s honourable mentions. Best metaphor of the month goes to Daniel Clarke for his character needing to “sew the rips in the pants of friendship”. Also a hearty back slap to seven year old John Laurie from Thorrington School, in Christchurch, a nice twist on a dark tale adding pirates!
There were quite a few stories with large chunks of dialogue this month. It’s a great idea to use dialogue to increase the pace of a story and to liven up your characters, but it’s always important to make sure that it is working for you, especially in a short story. What does that mean? I mean, that dialogue should be to show who and what your characters are, not what they had for lunch (unless of course that is pivotal to your plot). You want to make sure every word they say reflects something about them (that they are in a hurry, furious, or maybe that they are a compulsive liar). And you want that dialogue to move the story along (show an action scene and your characters reactions to it, rather than stalling it to talk about what is out the window for eg). Also, try and make sure your dialogue tags (he said, she said) match what is being said. If Peter says “I can’t believe he would do that! What an idiot. I could kill him!” It’s unlikely he would be cheerful so don’t add he said cheerfully. In my opinion, you could simply use he said, in most situations rather than he said cheerfully, or she said anxiously. If we’ve done our writing job right, what the characters are saying will usually be enough for us to know how they are feeling.
But, without further ado the winner for this month is ten year old Amie Tunnicliffe of Warkworth Primary School in New Zealand. Her story was really well written, with tones of atmosphere and rich characters. Peter had a sun-coloured fringe flopped delicately over his laughing, ice-blue eyes and one of my favourite lines, My face was long, with a ridiculous straight line at the bottom. A brick could well have been inside my jaw. Congratulations Amie, you can chose one of the titles from any of the Fabo team.
Amie’s Winning Story
However, I couldn’t help casting fearful glances at that swarm of wave-tops encasing his poor arm.
It was a stingray that got him. The moment the great brute rose hungrily out of the waves replayed itself again and again in my mind. I had screamed at Peter to run, but he didn’t hear me in time. It’s cat-o-nine-tails whip thrashed my half-brother on his left arm. He had been rushed straight to the hospital. I went with him, though I cowered away from him the whole time. The arrogant 11-year-old, same age as me, had been reduced into a shivering, howling mess, and I couldn’t stand that. I had hated the way he bossed me around, like he was the president of America. But then, I just wanted his nature back. I was practically begging him to spring up, lively as ever, and give me a command. Yes, his eyes, blue as the sea, would flicker. “Just joking!’ he would claim. “Had you all fooled there!” He would chuckle his hearty laugh and order me to rip his “stupid bandage” off. Naturally, I would be scared and not want to. I am a COWARD I tell you. Not like Peter! We’re total opposites, despite our kinship.
Peter’s eyes would dance wildly, his famous cheeky grin still plastered on his perfectly tanned face.
He was all over perfect until the accident. His sun-coloured fringe flopped delicately over his laughing, ice-blue eyes. He had a face just right the size, with a perfectly pointed chin and rich brown skin from his beach-life.
I, on the other hand, was a mess. I was lanky and thin. My face was long, with a ridiculous straight line at the bottom. A brick could well have been inside my jaw. My legs and arms were much too long for my pale, meek body. I had mud-brown hair and rust-coloured eyes. And don’t forget my stupid toe. The second toe on my left foot was longer than my big toe. Peter teased me about it. He said I had ballerina feet! You were a natural ballerina if your second toe was your big toe. As if I wanted to do silly girl’s dancing. I didn’t want to prance around pretending to be a swan or a babyish fairy! I wanted to lock myself up in my room with only me and my science experiments.
When Peter came home, three days after going to Kenton Hospital, he was no longer perfect. The thick sheet of ice cloaking his arm had been removed, leaving behind a thick, deep, blood-red scar. I looked away from him, wincing on his behalf. I didn’t want to look at his mum either, her eccentric green eyes filled with grief and disappointment.
I went to the beach. Having lived there for a year after the Formula 1 incident where our father was killed, the seashore had become a place I could relax and escape from my adopted family, just for a little while. I plonked down on a magnificent golden dune. The coarse ocean wind disrespectfully chucked salt into my blank eyes. Water built up inside my irises. It pushed at my eyelids, threatening to leak out. It wasn’t because of the whistling wind either, though that certainly hurt. No, it was because of my father. I couldn’t understand how such a jolly old soul could have fathered Peter, although I knew full well that he did. The facts were right in front of eyes.
My father would race me and Peter down the steep sandy mounds. I ran barefoot always, dry sand trickling warmly through my odd toes. It was a beautiful sensation, the best feeling of all.
“What are you thinking about?” a voice murmured, and I felt the presence of another human beside me. For one mad moment, I thought it was my dad. I opened my mouth to say something, then shut it when I realised who it was. “What are you doing here? You hate me, remember?” he replied evenly, not taking my eyes off the rising water mass and cawing gulls swooping around eager beach-goers. I felt a pair of sky-blue eyes bore into my cheek. “Not any more, Billy” my brother replied. There was a hint of sadness in his tone that made me listen for once. “Mum hates me.” I gasped and turned to him. How could a mother hate her own flesh and blood? I knew my mother loved me with all her heart and soul, until the day the earthquake struck.
A flame burned angrily in Peter’s eyes, with such intensity that I had to restrain my face from whipping sharply to the left. I forced myself to hold his gaze. “Why?” I whispered. “She wants a perfect child” he answered me. Hatred was frothing in his voice-box, and the fire in his eyes continued to roar. “Oh” was all I could manage. “An injured child, no can do” Peter continued. Sympathy washed over me like a tsunami. Indeed, a tidal wave swamped my thoughts.
From then I took him under my awkward, dull brown wing. He no longer took charge of the two of us. Like I said earlier, we needed little conversation in our activities; we just seemed to agree on almost everything imaginable.
One summer later, we are the best of friends. Us two twelve-year-olds plan to spend every moment of the season together – not very hard, seeing as we share a room. We have bunk beds. Peter’s on the top, as you would have guessed. He has a blue duvet, I have a green one – our favourite colours. But I am sure that both of us still have nightmares of a living spear slicing a tanned arm.