Posted in fabo story, The Winner

Maureen Crisp’s Fabo Judges Report

It is always interesting to see what themes pop up in the stories. There were many horrible principals and scary teachers. Bullying and revenge also featured a lot. I loved the stories that broke outside this and attempted to be really creative. An out of control yoghurt truck was a good idea but I couldn’t think how this could have fitted with the story starter of a repeat incident.

The phrases that stayed with me had these little gems…
weird blobby splashy crunchy noises.
and aggressively put my clothes on
3 super berry deluxe mouse yoghurts
his bushy eyebrows were like two fat caterpillars
buncha munchy crunchy carrots,

Shout out to the fabulous Upper Moutere school who sent in the most entertaining entries of really high caliber. Max you could have made the story longer…. Max you could have made the story longer… Max… you…. Sorry Max, My keyboard got stuck in a time glitch.

Also a shout out to St Cuthbert’s who also had excellent stories… pages and pages and pages of them. There were descriptive words everywhere. Verily my brain was working like a dynamo with all the expansive words that populated the discourse in the correspondence I received.

The FABO writers are all great writers but remember you need the boring stuff to give the reader time to reflect on your brilliant ideas. Presentation always lifts a story. Go back over your work and put in capital letters, full stops and paragraphs. This immediately lifts your story into the second round of judging. As entertaining as the stories are… they cannot be saved if the sentences run on and on without a pause in a great big long description of action and adventures and lavish attention to detail.

You do not need to show off how many long words you know. If you read an action scene you will see that the writer uses short punchy words to make the reader read faster. This is a writing trick called pace. You cannot write an action scene with long words because readers get caught up in wondering how to pronounce the words and what the word means. This pulls the reader out of the story. You want to hold your readers to the last full stop.

Ava Alpe worked hard on all the details to get her story right and it showed. There weren’t any missing words or a plot that went somewhere else. It was a complete story too. There weren’t too many of those.

Congratulations Ava.
If you send us your address using the Contact Us page on the website, we can get your prize out to you.

Maureen’s Story Starter

“Hey, Yoghurt Brains, are you coming to play footy? Hurry up will ya!”

The rest of my team laughed at Frazer’s sad joke. When would he give it a rest?

I sat down on the classroom steps to lace up my shoes. Just once I’d like to be known for something really cool.

Inventing a new dance move… Saving the life of someone….

But no, everybody knows me because of that stupid time I got detention with the principal and ended up in the school garden with a yoghurt pot on my head.

It wasn’t even my fault!

My mum says that if I write the story down I might win a prize. It’s got everything… Action… humour… sad bits… and total fiction. Nobody believes me.

“Come on,” yelled Frazer. “Yoghurt is faster than you!”

I jogged down to the field with my team. We passed the Harris triplets who were all eating yoghurt. That stuff should be banned, I thought. I could see Frazer turning to say something more… and then the whole story happened again right in front of me….

Ava’s Winning Story

Except this time … I was the one watching it unfold!

The Harris triplets were all sitting on the bench eating their yoghurt pots.

I mean why wouldn’t you eat yoghurt before sports practice? My mum always gives it to me. She says “It’s the perfect snack before sport. It’s full of calcium, it’s healthy and it will give you energy”. I wish she wouldn’t give it to me because nobody has ever forgotten what happened to me at detention. Frazer only makes it worse by never letting me forget it.

Back to the Harris Triplets – I don’t know if anyone else has noticed but they have to be the biggest kids in the whole school – and they aren’t even the oldest! When I say big – I mean big – they looked like an ad for weetbix. They had kauri trees for legs and they actually had muscles in their arms, which is weird for twelve year old boys! I swear all three of them were at least twice the height I am …. and I’m not small … I am a hooker!

But today I heard Frazer say something to the Harris triplets. Something he never should have said …. “You’d better watch out boys, if you eat yoghurt, you will end up just like Yoghurt Brains and everybody will laugh at you!”

Suddenly Frazer was in the air and I mean literally! He had a Harris on either side of him holding his legs and he was upside down. “Laugh at us for eating yoghurt?” asked the Harris triplet that wasn’t holding him. “Are you kidding mate? Yoghurt made us this big – maybe you should try it some time?” and then he laughed and so did his brothers. But while he was laughing, I saw him pick up the not yet finished yoghurt containers and get ready to throw them at Frazer. Frazer was so petrified, he started to cry. Worst of all, it was in front of coach, the team, some parents and me! The weirdest part of it all was I actually felt sorry for Frazer – even though he had tormented me the last three months over the yoghurt incident.

“Boys hold him up higher.” The two Harris triplets holding his legs, lifted Frazer impossibly high. The other brothers raised the first pot up in the air and went to throw it at Frazer. I have no idea what came over me – but I jumped in front of Frazer – and SPLAT, yoghurt was on my face. It had happened again. How was I ever going to get over this? Amazingly, the Harris triplets let Frazer go. He was shocked.

The Harris triplets told me they couldn’t believe that I would do that for a mate…take a yoghurt pot to the face! “You are some kind of dude,” they said “how come you are not the Captain of our team with that personality?”

The rest is history. Frazer has never teased me again. I was made Captain of our team and I got a citizenship award at the end of year assembly.

Things weren’t so bad after all.

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!

Sue’s FABO Report!

Thank you, Fabsters, for revving up your imaginations to finish the story starter. I was intrigued to see what you thought might happen when a lady in a funny old toy shop in a weird town told you to spin a globe which was clearly not going to be a normal globe. Where would you end up? The jungles of Africa? A Himalayan mountaintop? In fact, many of you ended up on desert islands with soft sandy beaches and turquoise sea. Could that be because we’re in the middle of winter?!

BUT, we also had: a planet where everything was the same yet different (Ella Stewart), Antarctica in the future (Finn Wescombe), inside the globe (Fatima Lefale), Dunedin in 1948 (Emma Shepherd), olde-worlde England (Maddie Mitchell), back to childhood (Mackenzie Carkeek), and the Titanic (Keziah). Oh yes, and Cole Wescombe landed on an island with a herd of buffalo, and also named the ‘weird’ town as Napier ☺.

Well done to those of you who included elements from the story starter in your writing. The toy shop owner, the sea serpents, Easter eggs and even pies were featured. Lucy Eastwood’s sea serpent appeared as a turquoise snake with curly horns, called Clarissa-Genevieve-Margaret-Elizabeth-Mary-May, and Indie Cowan’s was Falkor, the Luckdragon of Fantastica. I also liked Maia Wenham’s creepy button-eye dolls. Charlotte Rodgers-Foran gets an special mention for her truly scary and revolting serpent.

There was plenty of great descriptive writing. Keira Auden’s story featured an old lady with hair in “an unnecessarily tight bun”. Keira – I think I might just have to steal that for my next book! And Jade from Tauraroa School had the awesome line “Fairy tales go wrong” – but Jade, your lovely story was 1,348 words long. Hint: read the instructions!

Beginnings And Endings

A word about beginnings and endings. Your beginning needs to hook the reader in, and most of you nailed this. Straight into the action! Two fabulous beginnings were from Chelsea Young, whose story began: “I don’t know why I did what this woman told me to, it was a stupid idea. Maybe 13 is the age where you begin to do stupid things.” And Tatiana Austin, whose story began: “OK, so at first it sounds like a really idiotic thing to do, to spin a weird looking orb because a weird woman in a weird store in a weird town told you to. Man, I wonder why the result was weird.”

Now to endings. One of my favourite last lines came from Mackenzie Carkeek: “Well everyone must be a child one last time.” But, there were some riproaring stories that just fizzled out. Fabsters, we’ve told you before, we really like to know what happens in the end! How can you do this to us! Take a look at the winning entries to see how they have rounded off their tales. And something else we’ve mentioned before. Try and avoid the “Oh, it was a dream!” ending. Aim to be original. And think – if you got to the end of Harry Potter and found it had all been a dream, wouldn’t you be disappointed? The FABO judges are the same.

The Winners

And so, to my two winners! Yes, although I do have an overall winner, it was so close that I’m giving a second prize too.

The second prize goes to Peter Browne, from Otumoetai Primary School in Tauranga, whose spinning globe releases the serpents into the town, and he has to use his wits to outsmart them. Excellent beginning, plenty of action, a great ending and dollops of humour. Love it!

And the overall winner is … wait for it, wait for it … Mika, from Thighes Hill Public school, whose story had it all – superb descriptive writing, really creepy, and a great twist at the end.

I will email you two to let you know about your prizes.

Here are the two stories:

Mika’s story

The light was inexplicable. It tore away everything, blocking out all sound and vision. My throat was raw, my limbs paralyzed. Terror took hold of me, gripping my heart with icy fingers. I screamed, willing my legs to move, but nothing would come.

Nothing.

Something solidified under my feet. Solid ground. The earth beneath me was hard like rock, and had a strange, foreign feeling underfoot, almost bouncy.

As the vision returns to my eyes, I hear a raspy, terrifying voice choke out a feeble sentence, “But… Where… no…” My hand flies to my throat as I realize the voice was my own.

The scene around me is both horrifying and stunning. The land is perfectly flat, covered in long, wavy grass that goes up to my waist. To my left the land slopes downwards and meets the waterline. The waves soar above my head, crashing just metres away from me. I catch the salty spray on my tongue and pull away, scrambling into the grass. Briefly I remember the strange creatures that roamed the water on the globe. The sun suddenly becomes unbearable. The heat pelts down on the land. Sweat breaks out on my brow and I cringe. I raised my head and stared upwards. My heart skips a beat.

Above me, the sky is curved upwards, forming a glassy dome above me.

And behind the dome is the face of the store owner. Her grey hair surrounds her laughing face like a hood, her eyes peeking out from under her fringe of curls.
I am trapped, gone.

Nothing.

Peter’s story

As it spun, the brownish land and sea turned green and blue suddenly the sea serpents grew bigger and bigger and BIGGER! Finally, the serpents came to life! The serpents slithered out of the toy shop.

“I have to save Easter from the serpents, otherwise they’re going to wreck it!” I thought.

I sprinted out of the toy shop and into the town that really wasn’t a town. The serpents were already heading into a café. If I didn’t stop them the people in there would die then I would die to. I ran down the street and into the café.

When I reached the café the serpents had almost eaten their first meals! I needed to distract them. I grabbed the door and started swinging it open and shut. Well that got their attention, it worked really good … a little too good – now the serpents were after me, not the café people! I ran for my life (and for Easter).

I wondered about the old lady back in the toy store. Did she want this to happen? If she did then she’s going to pay for it.

“Snap out of it” I said to myself “Stop thinking and start running!”

Finally, I had an idea. If the sea serpents came to life when I spun the globe right, if I spun it left the sea serpents would go back in. “I’m a genius,” I thought, but did I spin it left or right? I’d forgotten. Well, I did just randomly spin it.

Suddenly I remembered that it was Easter! I ran down the road and into another café. Sure enough there were Easter eggs everywhere! Lucky me, I thought, so I asked the counter person if I could have some eggs. She said no, but when the serpents came in she gave me them all. I was chocolate rich, but this wasn’t for me it was for the serpents.

I ran out of the café holding the Easter eggs in my hand and screaming at the top of my voice. “Come and get it, you slimy sea monsters!” They soon followed me at supersonic speeds. If I couldn’t outrun them I’d have to outsmart them. So I dodged, jumped, and swerved until I’d almost tired them out. Finally, I could run to the toy shop.

When I reached the toy shop I found the lady asleep on the counter so I walked over to the globe. “Here goes nothing” I thought, and spun it … Sure enough the serpents got sucked back into the globe.

As for the old lady, she got sent to jail for the rest of her life. And, I was interviewed for breaking news on Channel 3.

Posted in Prizes!, The Winner

Melinda’s FABO Report For The Competition Ending June 9

It is wonderful to see so many of you participating in Fabostory, even from as far afield as Canada (Hi Ella!). We received 67 entries for this challenge. Wow! Good effort, people!

It was really interesting to see several of you take the story in an Alice in Wonderland direction with cakes saying ‘eat me’ and drinks saying ‘drink me’ and odd doors and special keys.

There was some terrific writing although sometimes it was let down by the lack of an ending. It is true that good endings are hard to come up with, but there are other ways to finish a story in a satisfying way, even if you can’t figure out a resolution. Please, please make sure you check your story for mistakes, correct punctuation (are there enough full stops and commas), consistent tenses and that it is complete before you submit it. Some wonderful stories had too many mistakes which meant I marked them down.

There were many lovely images and ideas – like this from Maddie Mitchell at Raumati Beach School, “Great,” I thought. “Now I have a chance of getting strange-looking-vine-from-tree-o-thermia.” And Fear hung in the air like a thick mist from Maia at Carmel College. My feet vacuumed me down like I was getting pulled down a plug hole, by Maddie at St Cuthberts and Jake Richards at Upper Moutere wrote – the forest had eaten us.

I liked Vaya and Laela’s (Sunnynook Primary) idea of the children being in a video game. Charlotte Ng Waishing from St Cuthberts created a very interesting world of sweets trapping Maria and her friends. It was cool how intasab Zohra from Sunnynook Primary linked this story with the previous challenge, and how Natalie Lamb from St Cuthberts wrote the story as a police procedural.

Rosie Shiu from St Cuthberts had an interesting approach with the forest having a Dark Side and a Bright Side. The story by Indie Cowan from Cambridge East School was well paced and had some great action. Amber Wastney from Upper Moutere had a fresh, original idea for her story using mirrors.

Alex B from St Cuthberts had some lovely language – My heart was pounding like a piston, and, I blow the evening zephyr a kiss.

I loved these lines from Mackenzie Carkeek from Carmel College – ‘Are​ ​we​ ​seriously​ ​going​ ​to​ ​do​ ​this​ ​you​ ​know​ ​how​ ​it​ ​always​ ​ends​ ​in​ ​action​ ​movies’​ ​said​ ​Josh​ ​in​ ​a worried​ ​tone, and, ​the​ ​air​ ​was​ ​still​ ​a​ ​nose​ ​burning​ ​stench.

Jade from Clevedon School had a really intriguing story with chapters. And I loved the idea that the world was ‘degravitised’ in Leah Joy Werner’s (Upper Moutere School) story.

I liked Julita Seumanutafa’s (Carmel College) use of ‘voice’ – All these questions popped up in my head like, “What was I supposed to tell her parents?, especially her mum she would probably bite my head off.

If I just told her that Maria’s feet just disappeared, she would have asked me if it was her daughter’s feet that had vanished or whether it was my mind that I had lost.
And also Lola Wood at Raroa Normal Intermediate – Crawling through talking bushes isn’t exactly where I excel…

Grace Chisnall and Rosa Kelly both from Upper Moutere School had some great over all writing as did Annabel O’Rourke from Carmel College, Rebecca from Northcote Intermediate, Julia Wilkins from Willow Park School, and Cole Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School.

My runners-up for this challenge are Ella Ava Bruce Sievert from Verran Primary, Nathan Stacey from Churton Park School and Finn Wescombe from Aidanfield Christian School. Great writing folks!

I have a special prize this week for Marlow Cornish from Taupaki School who is new to the story writing business but who impressed me with his vivid and cool ideas. Well done Marlow! Keep up the good work.

And finally, drum roll please …. The winner of this challenge is Anita Lese from Ellerslie Primary with great poetic language and a smart twist. You can read her story below. Congratulations Anita!!

Marlow, please could you email your postal address to me at melinda@tale-spin.com so I can send out your prize (or I can forward it to your school if you prefer). Anita, Tania is going to send your prize and has already emailed you.

Anita Lese’s Story

Her shriek morphed into a nail, and drilled itself into our memories. We retreated as a pack, shins scraping against bare bush, hearts pumping under our blazers. With our fear came sweat, penetrating the safety of our group.

I struggled forward searching for any changes to the scene. A puddle of dry mud encasing a pair of sneakers met my eyes.

A rustle of dead leaves reminded me of my companions. As if acting to cue, a hand squeezed my shoulder. I turned my head and saw the worried face of my friends. “Are you going in?” Rosie questioned, voice crackling with fear. The crackles turned into a roaring fire. The squeeze of my shoulder was a way of releasing nerves. I am the brave one. They are a shaky building, and I am their supports.

With new authority I nodded and threw my now undesirable bag over my shoulder, along with my strangling tie which flew through the air, then nestled around my discarded bag. One by one they followed suit. “You don’t have to.” I said. “We know.” Replied Charlotte and they continued to copy me.

Panting heavily in anticipation, we jumped into the great unknown. Our brains were radios all tuned to the same station. The ‘Save Maria’ station.

Everything was dark. Our eyes drifted around, searching left, right and centre. Searching for clues. Maria. Light. There was nothing.

Suddenly a light formed and slowly grew into a sun, we laid back relying on the sun’s familiar rays to calm us. A burning sensation in every spot the sun touched us was our repayment.

Faster than a wink something was sprouting from our shoulder blades and spreading to our fingertips. Wings.

The fear was back, eating our insides. Coursing through our blood. Lungs yearned for air, but mouths wouldn’t open. Once again, the fear led to sweat. It was sliding sloppily down my brow.

Animal like whimpers escaped Charlotte and Rosie’s mouths. Their worries gave me strength, reminded me I was the supports. I must stay calm. I pointed to the sun, then indicated my wings. Luckily they understood my wild gestures and each clasped my hands.

With that simple act our lungs opened, letting in fresh oxygen. Clearing our minds from any worry. We rose up, uncertainly flapping our wings. Could we trust these wings? With everything that had happened would this be a blessing? A curse?

The air was alive with the sound of our flapping wings. We were doing it, soaring high above the ground towards the sun. The wings were trustworthy, no hoax.

A sneaker patterned limb waved in front of my face. Maria. I clutched her leg and pulled her along with us.

“We escaped. We survived.” I tell the teacher. But she doesn’t believe me, she just gives me the knowing look only a teacher can give. Maybe that excuse was a little too crazy. Next time I’ll just do my homework.

Or stick with the classic, “The dog ate it.”

Posted in fabo story, The Winners!, writing tip

Kathy White’s FABO Judge’s Report

It’s been a lot of fun reading your stories about Aunt Lillian and that poor kid who’s bleeding on the rug.

What I loved most was that every single one of your stories was different. Madeline’s slug was sucking the colour out of the room, which was a very clever idea. Some of you turned Aunt Lillian into a hero, others turned her into a villain, and one fed her slug soup (Tingmeng, St Cuthberts). Some brought out bazookas (Skye, Waipahihi School), slingshots, and massive quantities of salt in the battle against vampire snails (Finn, Aidanfield Christian School), a ‘summoning animal’ (Katie, Waipahihi School), aliens looking for a host body (Peter), a shapeshifting slug on the rug (Skye), and a creature that burrowed its way through the skin, breaking bones as it went (Bridget, Milford School). Jared’s main character metamorphosed into a slug. YUK! Some of you made it mega-YUKKY by replicating the single slug into hundreds when you tried to destroy it. I like this concept of trying to fix something and inadvertently making it worse (it happens to me all the time!) I’ve always liked tall tales and this story starter allowed you to take it to the extreme if you wanted.

Two bits of advice for improvement in future stories – remember to stay focused on telling THIS story. Don’t dilute it by trying to include another story idea if it doesn’t fit well with the logic of your main idea. If you made this a thriller, you’d focus mainly on the unknown and frightening bits. This story was told from inside the main character’s head, which meant you had access to all their thoughts and fears. Having said this, you could just as easily turn this story into a hilarious tall tale with one disastrous thing happening after the other. Some of you did this brilliantly. And as a general rule, if you choose to tell your story in past tense, stick to it.

There were so many great things about your stories. Here are a few highlights.

Best twist in the middle of the story (going from something that was frightening to funny) – After what seemed like forever I saw pale light encasing me from corners of my eyes, then what seemed like a muffled giggle escaped from under the bed. Then there came a howling of laughter. I dropped to the floor and there was my little brother- Andrew, squirting the tomato sauce bottle as hard as he could, his slime still sitting there – the so called slug was unmoving as it wobbled back and forth for eternity. Meanwhile the sauce soaked into the rug. I knew Aunt Lillian would kill Andrew but not before I had my payback …. (Henry, Milford School)

Best beginning – You know when you flip a ladybug onto its back and it waves its little ladybug legs around, stranded… that’s probably what I looked like right now, add in a Tasmanian Devil scream to the equation and BOOM! You’ve got my current situation. (Pip, Mahana School)

Fabulous imagery – The blood kept on pouring out of my leg like a massive, never-ending waterfall (Ben , Reignier Catholic School), Susan screamed and shouted but nothing came out. She was a remote controlled car and was helpless (Jared, Milford), My brother was in his room, mucus pouring out of his nose, a river cascading into the sea of tissues at his feet (William, Milford), and … blood gushing down my leg like an exploded pipe! (Katie, Mahana School).

Top marks to Bessie from Houghton Valley School for a smooth blend of action and description – I groped for a weapon. My hands hit a white table lamp. I smacked the slug…it burst with a loud comical pop like in a cartoon. The next bit was not cartoonish. As I wiped slug juice from my eye a bloody torrent whipped through the air. MY blood! It gathered in the empty slug skin and then the skin merged together. A new cricket-bat sized slug!

Rose (Vardon School), and Zoey (Waipahihi School) wrote great dialogue. Kyra (Kingsway Christian College) was exceptional at showing her character’s thoughts and fears and used evocative language. All of the children at Willowpark School did a good job with descriptions, and deserved top marks for their use of the words pulsating, exsanguinated and mucus.

Some of you, like Madeline of Birkdale Intermediate and Matthew of Tawa Intermediate just wrote really well in all sorts of ways that deserve applause. All of you did something well. That made it incredibly difficult to choose winners. But I have.

Tatiana Austin is the winner and Pip Coakley and Jessie are highly commended this week. I loved Aunt Lillian as the unexpected hero, but the thing I loved most was the way she used the first person point of view to tell her story, displaying all her main character’s thoughts and fears and sense of humour. It was just fabulous from beginning to end – a great overall story.

As for Pip’s entry, I fell in love with her voice and writing style. At times her cautionary tale is funny, and other times, it’s thought-provoking. She focused on the positive side of the situation, which was unique. Leeches do have medical benefits, and I liked the way she stretched the idea into something fantastical, ethical and philosophical.

And Jessie, you made me cry. You took it as far as it can go and yet kept it all so real. Well done, everybody.

Tatiana, Jessie and Pip, can you super cool kids please email me your address so I can send you a little something.

WINNER – Tatiana Austin, Amberley School (aged 11)

What the…?

I stared at the blood that slowly dyed the white rug red, trying to figure it out. That’s when it dawned on me that the ‘slug’ wasn’t on the rug anymore.
It was up my leg.

But it wasn’t a slug. Slugs don’t have razor sharp teeth on the bottom of their slimy bodies. Slugs don’t rip through human skin, pushing their teeth until they reach the pulsing veins. All in all, slugs AREN’T vampires.

But this one was. And I didn’t like it. I grabbed one of the white cloths hanging in the corner of my room. I wacked the filthy creature again and again, but the only thing I gained was blood marks and slime.

The slug didn’t like being wacked. No… Not the slug.

The slime. The slug was slime.

The slug slime thing deformed to its natural state. Now slime doesn’t sound like the strongest substance on the planet. But what people don’t know is that slime is tough. That slime is strong.

Slime is liquid steel.

Well, a gooey version of liquid steel.

It slithered around my leg, tightening its grip. It placed its blood-sucking fangs inside the wound, and bit.

I aimed, and plunged with all my might at the slime.

However, you can only do so much with a cloth. The slime fled from the smack of the cloth. I ended up smacking the injury, blood suddenly flowing rapidly from the wound. I screamed in pain, dropping the cloth. The slime slithered back toward me in hatred.

Oh yeah, how do you know if a ball of vampire slime is happy and is angry? Well, look at its teeth. Usually, their teeth would be nothing but helpless shards of stones, only glistening jewels stuck in muck. But when he is enraged… Well, it wasn’t pretty. His teeth sprouted, teeth curving wickedly to form daggers. A transformation. That’s all you need to know.

I backed into the corner, so close to the door. If I got out, I’d be safe. Safe…

I reached over to the white fabric, the cloth, gripping it like it was my last chance.

The slime followed my path of blood, sucking up every last drop. At least Aunt Lilian won’t notice the new red dyed onto the rug, however she would still scream at me for the slime that had replaced the marks… Aunt Lilian!

My mind tried to push the words out of my mouth with all my might, but I only squeaked it.

“Aunt Lilian…” the words were nothing but a wisp of a whisper.

The slime went up to me, and dug its jaws into my wound. I slammed the cloth again and again, but the slime didn’t stop. I wanted to scream, I wanted to dig my fingernails into the living goo’s back. Wanted.

I lost feeling in my hands and legs. But I still had some control in my mouth.

“Hell! Go move your slimy butt to hell!”

Now, I know that was kind of a lame thing to say, but I’m not a person who curses other lives and other people. What did you want me to say to the vampire slime slug? THANKYOU?!

That did it. My vision drained away from my eyes, my mouth struggling to breath. And then I knew. I knew that the slime had exsanguinated me. Then the slime opened up its mouth, rising to my face…

The door slammed open. I felt the wind from the door in my face, and you would think that when you are about to die, everything would be faint, blurred. But oh no, the wind smacked me in the face, and it smacked me hard. Painfully hard.

The figure stood silhouetted in front of the opened door, like a person on the top of a mountain, a person on the tallest tree in the forest, a super hero arriving at the fight-scene, or, in my case, an aunt standing tall in front of my bed room door.

I felt my heart start pumping again; the slime fell back, away from my face, away from me. Breath rushed towards my mouth in short sudden gasps.
Aunt Lilian’s piercing voice cut through the air at me.

“I keep telling you, Rachel, DON’T go out to the waters. Slugs and slimes, REMEMBER?!”Aunt Lilian shrieked.

Aunt Lilian was wearing gloves, gumboots, and in her right hand was a witch’s broom, and in her left hand, a bottle of spray-able vinegar. The outfit oddly suited her, Aunt Lilian had always been one of those ‘clean clean clean’ aunties. Oh yeah, and the gloves and gumboots were all clean and polished, with a spray of vinegar. I knew because the smell of vinegar flooded my room. Ugh.

The slime began to shrink, squirming and slithering to the rug, where it could flee and escape. Aunt Lilian was quicker.

“AND WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR GOING?!” Aunt Lilian roared at the slime, chasing after it. The slime shrank some more, allowing it to move more quickly. Unfortunately, for the slime, Aunt Lilian was quicker.

She smacked the broom onto the slug with such force I knocked back, too. Then Aunt Lilian switched to her vinegar, and sprayed. Sprayed like a skunk, I tell you. I swear I saw a puff of green squirt out from the bottle. It landed onto the slime. It withered and squirmed madly. And then the slime died.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Aunt Lilian whipped around, her hawk-eyes narrowed as she looked me over.

“What are you going to do with socks like THAT?!” she shouted, her finger almost sticking to my sock.

Busted.

But I wasn’t thinking about all the scrubbing I was going to have to do, as punishment. I had seen toads, fish, and slime, even a platypus family.

But before I went back to New Zealand, I needed to see a crocodile.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Pip Coakley, Mahana School (aged 12)

You know when you flip a ladybug onto its back and it waves its little ladybug legs around, stranded… that’s probably what I looked like right now, add in a Tasmanian Devil scream to the equation and BOOM! You’ve got my current situation.

I grabbed my selfie stick and cautiously approached the foul beast. As I crouched beside it, I noticed the mucus spilling out of the slug like creature. Its skin was bumpy like a snail’s and stretch marks were evident on the middle part of the body. Reaching out, I gently pushed the pulsating lump with the picture taking device that was in my hand.

Stirring, the creature makes a strange noise.

“Shebang I am!”

Confused I poke it again, this time it says,

“Shebang I am, Shebang is here to help Georgia!”

I guess I was puzzled, or maybe it was the shock, but I spoke back!

“W-w-what do y-you help with?” I stammered.

“I h-help you t-to be h-h-healthy.” Shebang mocked me.

Taking a deep breath, I tried to calm myself down. This slug thing, that was sucking my blood, was helping me?

“How?” I enquired, my voice sounding much more confident than I felt.

Shebang shook his head. “When I suck your blood I take out all the mucus in your body, and if you are mean, deceive or back-stab, I will magically disappear” He replied. I peer apprehensively at the remains on the floor.

“Yes, that’s your gunk.” The Miniature Thrasher Whale next to me explains, seeing my stare.

My sight was suddenly shrouded by black dots and I was getting increasingly dizzy.

▴ ▴ ▴ ▴ ▴

All was calm in Aunt Lillian’s house, the birds chirped, people laughed. Shebang sat peacefully in his tank. Suddenly the door opened, a girl strolled in, following her were flashing cameras, journalists and microphones. The girl grins and leads them over to the tank at the side of the room, trying to show them the rare species that supposedly sits there. But it’s too late, Shebang is gone, his trust destroyed by the traitorous girl. Georgia stares in disbelief. Realising her mistake she quickly ushers the people out of the house. The journalists, thinking Georgia wanted publicity, begin to hit Georgia, until all that remains of her, is a beat up piece of worthlessness.

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Jessie, St Cuthberts College (aged 12)

I thought nothing of it as Aunt Lilian rushed to tend to the cut. After all, it didn’t hurt and there wasn’t even that much blood. Aunt Lillian thought that I was too frail, so she made me sit down and read my comics while she scrubbed hard at her rug.

Little did I know that, that would be the last day of truly feeling at peace.

The cut was much, much more than what Aunt Lillian and I had thought. I remember the way Aunt Lillian screamed in the morning. Her newly bought, crisp white sheets had been soaked with my crimson red blood. Head pounding, fingers trembling and my entire leg red I had tried to get up but my efforts were useless. As Aunt Lilian bundled me up in the sheet, she whipped out her cellphone and called Mum.

Honestly, the memory of Mum’s crying resonated with me the most.

The next few days I don’t recall. Apparently, after being rushed into the Emergency Hospital, the doctors and nurses all panicked, but Aunt Lililan told them to shut their faces and help me. This made me laugh. According to Aunt Lilian, the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me, So they rushed me to Starship Hospital in Auckland. In a blur of ruby lights, wind whistling and several white figures, we boarded a helicopter.

Arriving into the hospital seemed quite effortless, almost as if I had just woken up there. Aunt Lillian didn’t tell me but it was pretty obvious. They had clearly knocked me out with some gas and chemicals. I didn’t get why everyone was treading so carefully around me. I remember thinking that teenagers don’t need chemicals or gas. After all, being almost 11 years old is basically almost a teenager. Aunt Lilian said I had “undergone a very serious and sore surgery”. Soon after that “sore and serious” surgery, I recall Mum dashing in like there was something really important.

“Oh God. You okay? Are you hurt? Were you any trouble for Lilian? Oh talk to me Josie!” cried Mum with every single bead of spit she could utter.

“Geez Mum, I’m fine. Really” I murmured awkwardly. There were plenty of people staring. Good thing I was being whisked away before Mum had anymore saliva to drizzle.

Now as I think, I really should’ve said something like, “ I love you,” or “Don’t worry Mum, relax” but I guess there’s no time for that. I’d been furiously trying to remember what happened in the last few weeks of my life. So that when I’m reborn, I’ll remember Mum and Aunt Lilian. What were the chances that, that little bloodsucker was an endangered and highly poisonous African leech. Disgusting, filthy little slug.

I know you’re probably wondering why the doctors would tell me “You’re going to die”. Well, I’m smart. Words like ‘amputation’ and ‘internal infection’ mean that I’m gonna die.
To whoever who reads this, just remember Josie Linn, was a super cool kid.

Posted in Enter Now, fabo story

Enter The New FABO Competition Now!

Kathy White is the next FABO judge, and her story starter has just been posted!

INSTRUCTIONS

Finish the story. Send it in by Friday August 5th (so don’t rush – you have heaps of time).

Here are a few extra tips

Ask yourself ‘What’s the problem?’ in this story.

What kind of story do you want to write? A realistic story or a tall tale? Perhaps a doomsday story, adventure, thriller, mystery or horror? This will affect the ending that you choose.

Add a surprise or twist to the story before you finish. Readers always like a surprise.

Extra challenge: Try to use one of these words somewhere in your story – pulsating, mucus, or exsanguinated (that last one is quite horrible so I’ll understand if you don’t want to use it).

STORY STARTER

Aunt Lilian re-decorated after I visited her at Easter. She said she couldn’t get my tub of slime out of her brown shagpile carpet. She wasn’t very happy about it. Nor was I. I’d only just got that slime for my birthday!

Now, everything in my new room, from the chenille bedspread to the plumped pillows and the cotton floor rugs, are as white as an English Christmas. Why on earth did she choose WHITE? Doesn’t she know about the time that Mum bribed me to eat a tomato, and I was sick down her favourite white jumper? It’s a recipe for disaster.

“Where are you putting those boots?” Aunt Lilian’s sharp voice made me jump.

I looked down. My boots WERE filthy. I’d just got back from looking for platypus in Froggett’s pool, and the ground had been very squishy at the creek edge.

“I’ll leave them at the door,” I said, quickly undoing the laces. Then I long-jumped onto the bed before she got a closer look at the other filthy parts of me.

“I’m not sure why you kiwis feel the need to spend so much time outdoors,” she said, growling at me over her horn-rimmed glasses. “This is Queensland. There are crocodiles in the water, remember?”

I nodded enthusiastically. Australia was so COOL!

She rolled her eyes at me and turned to go downstairs.

I peeled off my socks and was about to throw them into the corner of the room when something slimy plopped onto the rug. At first I thought it was a slug but this wasn’t the kind of slug you find in your cabbages. Those ones are small, but this one was the size of a golf ball.

That’s when I noticed the blood running down the back of my leg onto Aunt Lilian’s rug.

Now you finish the story! Go to the FABO website to write what happens next.

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kyle’s Fabo Judging Report

 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.

Kyle

Finn’s story

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!”

Posted in fabo story, writing tip

A New Fabo Year Is Starting April 4th!

The Fabo team have struggled out of our writing cave. We’ve kicked aside the rubbish heap of old stories, broken sentences and worn out ideas. A new Fabo Story season is just around the corner!

Our first step was to fight over who would go first. Melinda won.

‘We need a story setting,’ the team cried.
How about a school?

‘We need a challenge,’ the team roared.
Let’s have 5 bonus words that have to be used in each story.

‘We need kids who want to write stories,’ the team whimpered.
That’s where you come in!

How To Enter Fabo

A new Fabo story starter will appear every two weeks from April 4th, with breaks for school holidays.

On April 4th, Melinda Szymanik will give you the first story starter – so don’t start writing until then!

Melinda will also give you five bonus words. You must use them somewhere in your story.

A prize will be awarded to the best story and/or most creative use of the bonus words.

Each story should be less than 500 words and must follow on from the story starter.

fabo writing tips

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Kathy White Announces The Winning FABO Story!

Wow! The FaBo stories took directions I wasn’t expecting this time. Some were funny, one rocketed into sci-fi and one in particular featured a strange boy who barely said a word. He didn’t need to speak – he gave me the shivers just by what he did.

Some of you wrote something that wasn’t connected to the story starter. Some were only a few lines and needed a bit more to be a full story, and some needed to be checked for grammar and spelling, but on the whole, you did a great job. The stories I liked most were the ones with vivid descriptions of characters and places (Will), with realistic conversations between characters (Ava and Tashya) and a well-rounded story (Peyton). I liked the pace in Reuben and Kyle’s stories, and I loved the thoughts and fears of the main character in Amelia’s story. There were also some wonderful ideas – riddles (Helena), a magic notepad and pencil (Amanda), and codes (Madeleine).

Peyton Morete described the characters so well that I could see them. I ran downstairs and slung my backpack over my shoulder. Chloe had her pink miniskirt on and her purple tank top. Her sassy queen bag lay on her converses.

And then Peyton gave the story an interesting twist. Keegan and Chloe’s mum got changed and walked down the stairs, wearing a red dress and hair spiraled down in curls – just like the miniature wax figure in the front seat of the yellow VW.

The dad in Will Isaac’s story had died in a tragic car accident and the kids missed him terribly. It was a great idea, and Will did well to capture the sadness in the detailed memories about Keegan and Chloe’s dad. “… dark brown eyes, all-time favourite yellow suit (it was incredibly ghastly but I didn’t want to tell him that), his blue tie with cars on, and his incredibly polished R.M. Williams boots.”

I loved the detail. It made his dad come alive in my mind.

A good story becomes bigger when characters want something badly and they have to struggle to get it. That’s often what motivates them to do something extraordinary. It also needs to have a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes you find a great story by starting with your main idea and asking questions, such as “What happened to their dad on that tragic day of the accident?” Perhaps the items in the box were clues to what really happened to their father. What if there was a sinister element to his car accident? Or perhaps their mum lied about it? Why would she lie? Finding that out could spark off the rest of the story, with Keegan and Chloe going back in time to prevent it happening.

In a good thriller, the stakes need to be high.

It was difficult to choose a winner this week, because so many of you did something well. In the end my shortlist was Ava, Amelia and Peyton, because you all wrote well and you had a beginning, middle and end. Amelia, your story had a mood and tension that no other story had. It was like we were listening to your character’s thoughts and fears, and it was beautifully done. “I heard a bang in the middle of the night and in the morning my red headed friend randy was gone. There was no box or sign or note just the shoes of randy.”

It was a tough decision, but the prize this week is going to Peyton Morete of Te Horo School, for a well-balanced story with good pace and unexpected twists and turns. Congratulations, Peyton, and thanks to everyone for writing such entertaining stories for us to read. Email me your postal address, Peyton, so I can put your prize in the post.

– Kathy.

Kathy’s Story Starter

The doorbell rang.

Mum groaned, nearly stabbing herself in the eye with her mascara. ‘Why does it always ring when I’m in a hurry? Can you answer that, Keegan? I haven’t cleaned my teeth yet.’ She breathed into her hand. ‘Good gracious, I smell like a gorilla’s armpit.’

Keegan sighed and slid off his bar stool, vegemite on toast in one hand, and a Go Pro attached to his head. He had been filming all weekend for a school project called ‘BSI: A scientific investigation into boredom, during which he had fallen asleep in his food twice. He could have drowned in his bolognaise or got a bit of corn stuck up his nose. But did anyone care? No. His sister Chloe muttered ‘Gross’ like she’d swallowed a snail, and continued doing inane snapchats with her friend Marty. And his mother? Well, his mother did what she always did.

‘Have you tidied your room yet, Keegan? There’s a good boy.’

She was so busy these days, she wouldn’t notice if he died and rotted on the carpet. She would step over his fly-infested corpse in the hallway and moan that he was always leaving stuff around. Keegan sighed deeply and opened the door.

Standing on the doorstep was a man in a red-and-yellow uniform. He grinned widely and thrust a rectangular box into Keegan’s hands. ‘Special delivery for K Bennet,’ he said, handing Keegan a clipboard and pen. ‘Sign here.’

Keegan put a vegemite fingerprint and a squiggle on the dotted line. He couldn’t stop looking at the strange aquamarine eye printed on the box lid.

‘Enjoy,’ the man winked. ‘Oh, and happy birthday.’

Keegan frowned. ‘My birthday’s in January ….’

Chloe poked him from behind. ‘What is it?’

He shrugged and lifted the lid.

Buried under the tissue was a small yellow car (a VW), a wooden cat with a long neck, and a notepad and tiny pencil.

‘What the …?’

Chloe snatched the card out of the box and read. ‘Happy birthday. We’re going back. We have to change the world, Keegan. We have no choice. P.S. Don’t forget the chocolate.’ Chloe looked up. ‘You have some weird friends, dude.’

‘Not half as weird as this,’ Keegan said, lifting the little yellow car into the air. There in the back seat were miniatures of Keegan and Chloe. And driving the car was ….

Peyton’s Winning Story

dress-clipart-red-dress-mdMum. She was wearing her red skinny dress and her hair spiralled down in curls. She looked amazing, her makeup made her features stand out. She didn’t look like herself, she looked like a… a goddess.

“Kids, I am just quickly changing. This outfit is too ick. Please get ready so we can leave.” Mum yelled from upstairs.

Geez, she was so messy these days, what was I to do.

“Keegan, clean your room up now.”

I groan, my go pro bobbing on my head as I bounced up the stairs.

After I had chucked everything into the wardrobe, I ran downstairs and slung my backpack over my shoulder. Chloe had her pink miniskirt on and her purple tank top. Her sassy queen bag lay on her converses.

I groaned, “Mum! Hurry up!”

“Just a minute!”

Normally that meant she was going to change her appearance again but who knew. But this time we heard her clattering down the stairs.

When she came around the corner, I nearly choked. What the…

She wore the red skinny dress and her hair was spiralled. This couldn’t be happening.

Chloe had obviously noticed, “Isn’t that like your toy car, K?”

“Hmm?” Mum asked as she reached over to get her purse.

“Oh yeah, I got this present for my birthday. You are wearing exactly the same clothes. It is weird”

Mum smiled at me and started to hum. This was weird.

She pats my shoulder and whispers in my ear.

“Go get in the car please.”

I groan, “Fine.”

I wander out to the car and strap myself in. Life was cruel.

I look at the car and look at Chloe, she is wearing a pink miniskirt…. Oh my god. What the hell.

I quickly zoom my eyes at my little wax body and see myself wearing the jeans and shirt I was wearing now.

This is weird, then I realised. Our car was yellow…

What. The. Hell.

I close my eyes and hear Mum and Chloe enter.

When we start to drive, I start playing with the car. Racing it along the seat, dodging the rocks that were spilled on the VW seats.

It was actually kind of fun to be back in my childhood memories. Then I made the car hit a big rock, denting the front of the car and smashing up Chloe and Mum.

Oops.

Suddenly the car screeches and I see a massive boulder on the road, we swerve but hit it. The car groaning and grumbling.

Then I realise before I black out. The note said we had to go back, We have to change the world, we don’t have any choice. I did go back to playing with this car. The world has changed because I don’t have a mum anymore. I don’t have anyone. There was no choice. This was always destined to happen. I blame whoever sent this. It was them! Or was it me…

Posted in fabo story, Prizes!, The Winners!

Michele Powles’s Judge’s Report

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.

Posted in writing tip

What’s in a name?

Names. Like naming children, naming our characters can be a daunting prospect. Get it right and our characters and their names are a seamless whole,the words tripping off the tongue and sticking in people’s minds – Harry Potter, Voldemort, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, Verruca Salt, Lyra Belacqua and Thursday Next. A good name fits the character like a glove, suits them and can provide an additional clue to who they are or be an extra riddle to challenge the reader.

Sometimes characters turn up with their names already attached. The result of a sort of writer’s intuition, that name is often the best choice. Trust your instincts. However sometimes I find when naming multiple characters in a longer piece of fiction that I have subconsciously made many of the names start with the same letter and changes are necessary to avoid confusion. A book of baby names (or two) is a good resource. If you are writing historical fiction, try the internet. I also check out Births, Deaths and Marriages columns for names and also sit through movie credits with pen and paper at the ready. Movie credits can be a fantastic place to find interesting and unusual names and I’m not just talking about the actors. Sometimes the foley artists, the special effects guys and the grips have the best names. It is a good idea if you are getting into this writing gig for the long haul to collect names that you like or that have a strong connection for you. Like screenwriters who write scripts with particular actors in mind I have several names I am keen to write stories around. However liking a name is not always enough on its own to make the name right for your character. It still has to fit with who they are, how they behave and when and where they lived.

Names must suit the tone and setting of your story. Names are era, socio-economically and of course gender sensitive. For example, think of the names Nigel, Rupert, Bruce and Matt. Or Charlotte and Tiffany, Kylie and Lisa. What about Mabel or Myrtle and Agnes or Jeremiah. Paddy and Duncan could have a Scottish background while Marcelle and Dominique are most likely French. And what about Inga, Olga and Hans? It can be tempting to use unusual names and this can work really well, but it can also fail miserably. Standing out is not always the right thing for your character. If you are writing for children, everyday names can make it easier for the reader to connect with your character. Of course while unusual names can be a curse in a novel or short story they can be the whole point in a picture book, for example Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton Trent, Mog, or Hairy McLairy and Bottomley Potts. In picture books, rhythmic and rhyming qualities may be the deciding factor. In my picture book The Were-Nana, while rhyming wasn’t an issue, choosing the name Simon for the brother gave me the opportunity to echo the Simon Say’s children’s game in several places. This name also helped with the rhythm of the story. The name Nana Lupin from the same book is a play on the root word for wolf.

Phew – there is a lot to take into consideration when naming your character. It can be one of the hardest decisions but ultimately you want it to look like it was no trouble at all. And like naming your own children, if your character makes it in to print the book will have to live with that name for the rest of its life. If you think the names will stand this test then you’ve done your job.

Good luck with your writing

Melinda