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Write your way into a book

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Allyse Near in the classroom at Bacchus Marsh PS. Photo – Meg Kennedy

By Meg Kennedy

Students were treated to a special workshop with local author Allyse Near at Bacchus Marsh Primary School last week, in preparation for the Moorabool Young Writers Awards.
The students discovered the magic behind the opening lines of successful children’s books – from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ – and practised writing a ‘sizzling starter’ for the opening of their own stories.
Ms Near, who will return as this year’s judge for the awards, said that there were “so many fantastic entries last year,” and is on the eye for stories that will “grab my attention and force me to keep reading.”
“I’m looking for stories that are a little bit against the grain and against the norm, I want the kids to really have to stretch their imaginations, and find something inside themselves,” she said.
“I’m looking for unusual stories and for sophisticated techniques, [such as] similes and metaphors, and really beautiful language.”
“When you read a really good sentence and you just go, ‘Wow, I have to read that again’, I’m looking for that.”
Ms Near said that although the awards are in the second-year of running, there “was a need for it in the community, especially in this area.”
“Bacchus Marsh has a really rich literary tradition, we have Peter Carey and lots of authors that come from this area, as well as filmmakers and artists,” she said.
“I think it’s important to encourage children, and to give them that support and connection, as well to their local authors and to their library, and to each other,” she said.
“I want them to find their fellow writers and storytellers, and be able to get some feedback, which I think is important.”
Entries for the 2019 Moorabool Young Writers Awards are now open until April 21.
Submissions will be accepted via email at info@moorabool.vic.gov.au or hand delivery to the Lerderderg Library in Bacchus Marsh or Ballan Library.
Entries must be typed and will be judged blind, so no names on work, but entry forms must be attached. Each child may enter one story and entry is free.
Winners will be announced on June 1st at an afternoon tea, held in conjunction with the Peter Carey Short Story Award.
All winning stories will be displayed in the Lerderderg Library in Bacchus Marsh.