Young writers’ chance to shine

Young writers Denika Mead, Wellington, and Marissa McGill, Matamata travelled to Tauranga recently for the launch of their work.

Young writers from throughout New Zealand descended on Tauranga last weekend both to learn their craft and celebrate publication of their work.

Young NZ Writers hosted its annual workshop at Tauranga Girls’ College and launched two anthologies of work: Timegate to Tomorrow (secondary) and Beyond Expectations (intermediate).

Denika Mead’s story Echoes of the Future appears in Timegate to Tomorrow. It’s a time-travel adventure in which headstrong Avia travels to 2060 and discovers a new world of opportunities for girls. Even better, in 2060 genetic engineering has brought back the Haast eagle and the magnificent birds have become a handy means of transport.

Marissa McGill’s story Tarnish is an original tale about how a complacent taniwha recalls his role as the guardian of the people, and appears in Beyond Expectations.

Both students want to be writers when they leave school, but as Marissa points out: “Writing can be a really helpful skill for any job.”

The free-to-enter national competitions offer feedback on every student’s work - a huge undertaking given there were close to 1000 entries over the two age groups.

Marissa says she first heard about the competition through school. “I immediately wanted to do it,” she says. “I entered last year’s competition Beyond the Backyard. I’m really excited to have my story published this year.”

Home-schooled Year 10 student Denika says she is “really happy” with herself for getting to the final. “It’s a big achievement,” she says.

The annual workshop features New Zealand writers offering tips on the must-haves of short story writing – conflict and character – and tips for polishing writing.

“I love finding new ways to write stories and techniques to hook in readers,” says Marissa. “I vividly remember the skills I learned in the workshop last year and it was a lot of fun. I wanted to come again so I could improve my writing.”

Young Writers NZ was founded in 2011 by Tauranga authors Lee Murray and Piper Mejia to provide writing and publishing opportunities for young people.

With recent funding assistance from the Wright Family Foundation, they also used the weekend event to launch the first Young NZ Writer Laureate award for writers under the age of 18 who wish to write a novel.

The prize for the best completed manuscript of 10,000-30,000 words will include cash and the publication of their book. The competition will be open from July 1.

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