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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Writing Students Geek Out to John Marsden you may recall I was pretty psyched for John Marsden to come and do his thang at Uni this week.

And then I had a job interview on the SAME DAY at THE SAME TIME. Can you believe that? I missed John Marsden! (But I got the job!)

But I have been informed that the writing and publishing students, even those not interested in YA literature geeked out and fan-girled at the mere presence of John Marsden. I thought I was the only one who was going to do that. But everyone grew up with his books when they were younger, and of course who in Australia DIDN'T see Tomorrow When the War Began last year?

Anyway, I may have missed it, but here are two recaps of the event for those who want to know.

For those who don't click through, John Marsden is not only a much-loved Australian author and educator, he ran camps for writers and teens who wanted to explore writing, and he even started his own school.

I love the below from Musings of Rationality, it just emphasizes the awesome of John and his crystal clear teaching style. Check it: John on how to write a vivid sentence.

"He enlightened us to what pertains to being a good writer opposed to a great writer. He spoke with wisdom and enthusiasm about the power of language; he workshopped a sentence for us.
This was a five minutes exercise where he explained to us the power of language & how it can transform something bland into something tantalising easily. He wrote the following sentence: 
We went to the beach. We had lunch. We went home.
From this sentence we were to identify the nouns.
We went to the beach. We had lunch. We went home.
Then with these nouns we were to substitute them with other more interesting nouns that befitted the sentence. This was the result:
We went to Bondi beach. We had a couple of burgers. We went Sam’s place.
Yes, the last sentence is not grammatically correct, however, we still had to identify the verbs within the sentence.
We went to Bondi beach. We had a couple of burgers. We went Sam’s place.
We did the same to the verbs as was done with the nouns.
We rode to Bondi beach. We grabbed a couple of burgers. We caught a bus to Sam’s place.
That is the completed sentence. A lot better than the initial product is it not? This exercise was used to demonstrate that an exuberant use of adverbs, adjectives are not always needed to create an eloquent piece."

Yup. It's that easy.

That's all I have for now. John Marsden, everybody. 


  1. Hi Sarah,
    I remember seeing John Marsden about 12 years ago in Wellington. It was the first time I ever saw an author treated like a Rock Star. There were 500 ecstatic teens clutching his entire works to be signed. It was just before the last book in the tomorrow series. He was mesmerising.

    Congratulations on the job!
    Is it writing related?

  2. I know, he does get treated like a rock star, doesn't he. He came to my school when I was in year 8 and I played it cool. On the OUTSIDE. I was among a whole lot of non-readers, definitely non-WRITERS so it was a different experience to yours. But I was totes one of those 500 ecstatic girls you mentioned from your experience. :) Meeting your idols. How does one be normal?
    Nah, the job isn't writing related, but it's income related and that's the important part.

  3. Wow... so jealous! Would love to see John Marsden! He's so awesome :)
    (see I'm a fan girl too, otherwise I'm sure I'd be more eloquent than that)


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