What I learned about writing from John Marsden

Students from Erasmus Primary School and Korowa Anglican Girls’ School joined us and acclaimed author John Marsden to celebrate the launch of our story dispensers and short story competition. Students Aditya and Tara had this to say:

‘Logic can get you from A to B; imagination can take you anywhere.’


Boring words? Don’t use them. Clichés? Avoid them like the plague. Have a weird idea? Go with it.


On Monday 25 February, we were fortunate enough to be part of the launch for the Independent Schools of Victoria Arts Learning Festival.


In an intimate setting at the State Library of Victoria, students were about to meet and hear from John Marsden, a celebrated author and educator. John told us about himself at school and the limited number of books he had available to him; this spurred him on to create more interesting stories. Although some of his ideas didn’t work, he continued with his stories. This is encouraging to us, so we don’t play it safe with our ideas and persevere.


On a whiteboard, John asked us to join different adjectives and nouns together. He told us to connect the words together to make the strangest combination and use these as prompts for story writing. They were:


Pink – Delta Goodrem

Furry – Melbourne

Atrocious – Honda bike

Spontaneous – bedroom

Obese – spaghetti

Belligerent – legs


From these prompts, our stories could be wildly imaginative and completely different according to the story writer. John wanted us to remember that stories need to have depth, contain lots of imagery and have measured detail.


– Aditya and Tara, students at Erasmus Primary School


Click here to find out how to enter our short story competition, open to all Victorian school students. Entries close Friday 12 April 2019.