We had a flood of entries this week. So many entries, in fact, that if stories were zombies the human race would now be doomed. Well, maybe just New Zealand …
It took a lot longer than expected to read all 245 entries. So apologies for being late with my report. Unfortunately most of the stories were really exciting, so I didn’t want to miss a word. A lot of stories went very close to the 500 word limit, too. And I suspect Genevieve from Hadlow School could have kept writing for another 5000 words.
Trying to pick a winner was incredibly difficult. Judges are like readers. Each judge looks for certain things in stories, and gives high marks for those stories that contain them. In my case, I like stories with a real surprise ending and writing that’s original and colourful.
There were a lot of stories with really interesting ideas that ended up being “just a dream”. I’m always disappointed with dream endings. So if you wrote a story like that, maybe next time try to come up with a different, more original, ending.
There were lots of original ideas with robots, candy prisons, clones, enchanted lands, portals and time machines running on rosehip oil. Sammie went to Book Town where famous authors hung from cables writing their bestsellers, while McKenzie had a tree that grew books for libraries. There were some amazing secret organisations, too. From Connor’s Teacher Superhero Service to Tara’s Stop the Bullies service with their terrible fart guns. While Ted’s Sectretum Magica was “the only group of magicians who use their powers for evil.” (Though I’m not sure why they needed an accountant.)
I enjoyed Rebekah’s story with the genie taking a shower and laughed at Aurora’s “cute, evil rabbits”.
There were also some great surprise endings. In Stacey’s story the Hulk had come to give Jake a message about his mum dying. Beth decided Mrs Merlinsky was The Hulk. And Charlotte let our hero meet a rather gruesome end – He turned back around, he saw a gleaming pair of eyes, yellow teeth in a mouth where there was more gum than teeth, a hunched black, and an arm holding a gleaming knife with blood dripping off.
But most excitingly, the writing in so many stories crackled and fizzed with energy. Though watch out that you keep the same tense (past or present) and perspective (I/he) throughout your story. Swapping between them often makes the story a bit confusing.
There are so many entries worthy of special mention, but there’s only enough space to mention a few favourites. (BTW I really love clever similes.)
Allicia – Terror drove him forward. The stairs were covered in dust and the intricate torches which had once lit up this gloomy staircase were out and filled with dark ash.
Gemma had some lovely similes (eg Spread-eagled like a starfish, Jake held his breath.) and I enjoyed her fairytale references – “I’ve got you now, Cinderella,” he growled, stepping into the darkness.” “There goes Alice… down the hole.”
Alex – Jake stared down in shock, his eyes the size of golf balls, his mouth hung open like an unhinged door. The inky darkness clutched his heart, squeezing out a good portion of his courage, he felt as though a thousand tiny scorpions were crawling up his legs, and spreading along his body.
Luca – The strange man stomped off as if he had farted in front of the whole world.
Rebecca – Old people tend to tell you everything, Jake thought. The walls had emerald green moss covering them which seemed to glow in the dark. Glow worms clamoured for space on the ceiling. Stalagmites covered the caves floor.
Eden also had some lovely writing, but the rules of FABO require you to complete Jake’s story. Here’s a sampler of Eden’s writing – I walk down the lonely track, crisp golden leaves fall around me landing softly on the rusty train line, I breathe the cool morning air and exhale intricate swirls of steam.
Thanks for sharing your favourite words, too. What a variety! Everything from squelching to nonchalantly, bemused to squirt, effervescent to sparkle. And most of you used the words cleverly in your story. But in the end I’ve chosen Sam Ridsdale who is home-schooled and whose favourite word is gadget. It came in handy for his story about the Anti-Bullying Corp (ABC) with its chili hot toilet paper and laxative chocolate. If you email your address, I’ll send a copy of my latest Dragon Knight story to you.
So job well done, team! But in the end there can only be one winner – Finn Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School. The story is well paced with some great similes, funny dialogue and an ironic twist. Great work, Finn. So please email your address and a copy of Dragon Knight will be on its way.
Keep up the great writing, everyone.
Jake heard a surprised yell, followed closely by thumping as the Hulk charged, his tree-trunk arms extended. He hesitated a second too long, and just as he leaped down the first step, he was yanked back. Jake found himself staring the Hulk straight in the face. True to his nickname, the Hulk was literally a giant, or more precisely, an ogre. Jake was hit with a wave of the worst breath ever, a combination of rotting teeth and tuna sandwiches. Gross! Don’t bullies ever brush?
Jake squirmed in the Hulk’s vice-grip, trying desperately to avoid the smell. He wished the Hulk would hurry up. His right arm was going numb as the Hulk’s hand cut off the circulation. His arm burned. “So this… is… you’re not hurt… hurting much?” Jake struggled to say.
“Yeah,” the Hulk said it with as much sympathy as a rat gives to a piece of newspaper. He tightened his grip. Jake did his best to scream as loud as he could but his Larynx had gone on strike.
Jake stared at the gaping hole before him, unable to think up a plan. He strained to think of a way to get in there other than being dropped in by the Hulk. Suddenly The Hulk grinned and released Jake allowing him to fall to his doom. Or if not, to end his life in misery. The Hulk turned to the desk and began to fiddle with the drawers trying to close off the hole, trapping Jake.
Oof! Jake landed on something soft. Too soft for the bottom of stone stairs. He stood and looked down, and in the faint light from above he could make out pillows all around, obviously placed to soften a fall. He decided against exploring for fear of being trapped, but he wanted to find out more about this secret cellar. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he could make out the outline of a king-size bed, a playstation, table-tennis table, eating table and a tiny kitchen. Jake was bemused. Who would live down here? He didn’t want to stay to find out. The sound of opening drawers echoed around the room, and he realised that the Hulk was trying to close off the hole. In a panic he started up the stairs, quickening his pace and hoping the Hulk would not see him.
The Hulk didn’t need to think as Jake emerged from the hole; he instinctively reached out and snatched Jake off the ground, grinning triumphantly. But when Mrs Merlinsky climbed the stairs, the smile faded from his lips.
The Hulk fled, dropping Jake. The librarian approached and assured Jake that she would deal with the Hulk. She gestured at the hole. “It’s a refuge for the bullied. You’re in!”
Suddenly Jake realised the irony of the situation. He guffawed, laughing uncontrollably until tears streamed down his cheek.
Mrs Merlinsky frowned questioningly.
“It’s just… the bully was trying to trap me in the refuge!”