Monday, 27 August 2012

John Marsden



In honour of 2012, The National Year of Reading, the Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation hosted John Marsden as a guest speaker on Sunday August 19th 2012. John spoke to the audience for well over an hour about his passion for writing and language, lots was said but here are some of the highlights.
John spoke passionately about the need for young people to have their own voice.
In school we learn all about the conventions of language but then as we grow older we throw the conventions away and make language do what we want it to do. There are no rules with language and it is important for everyone to have their own distinctive voice.
Correcting young people’s language makes them timid and does nothing to improve their language skills. Don’t filter what comes out of people’s mouths because doing so will not make people more fluent in language it will just make them more timid and lead to monosyllable responses.
Use language adventurously
John himself is fascinated by language especially effective and efficient language that can create places and people so vividly in the mind. John’s advise when writing is don’t use a long word when a shorter one will do.
Language in a book can help distinguish a character without them being identified. For example in Tomorrow when the war began the character of Fi was the only person under 60 who Ellie knows that says the word gosh, as such when that word was used in a sentence John did not need to clarify who had said it because the audience would already know that was Fi’s voice. This makes for a more fluid and enjoyable read. The voice can communicate so much information about who a character is.
Remember the key to every story is a change in status. A character must grow and develop over the course of a story otherwise there is no plot and no way to engage the audience.
John also recalled how as a young child he learnt to write but refusing to do as everyone else did and writing his own way. He recounted the tale of being the only child in class to never contribute a word on a topic to the board (i.e.: what words are associated with the beach). If a word appeared on the board John would not use it in his story. This made John work harder to find words to write with and created his passion for  words and stories.
John is working on his next book its in the very early stages at this point and probably won’t be released for another year or two
John also mentioned that at this point there will unlikely be a sequel to the movie version of Tomorrow when the war began because the production company that owns the rights are having financial difficulties. He did say there is a possibility of a TV series possible in the next couple of years.
And whatever you do…never ask a librarian for directions (John’s advice)

Courtney @ Hampton Park Library

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