On the 27th of September the author Bernard McLaverty visited the Year Thirteen English Literature students. He began by reading an extract from his new book “The Anatomy School” in which the protagonist , Martin Brennan, plots to steal exam papers. Once he had finished reading he explained how a simple event such as walking down a corridor can be transformed into a tension filled and dramatic scene by effective use of descriptive language.
He then organised an activity in which we all choose an abstract noun each. For example, I choose ‘hate’ and then he instructed us to compose a sentence with that noun describing how it would look, smell, dress, sound … and so on. For example, I decided that hate would look like an old, crippled man bent low to the ground.
The activity was extremely useful; it forced us to think of innovative ways to describe things that you feel instead of see. Mr McLaverty explained how good, effective writers use how the protagonist is feeling, how they perceive things to describe something you can’t see such as fear or hate. He quoted another writer who said that that story telling is a series of pictures as they see them and that writers help the reader to see those pictures as they see them. He taught us that if possible you never name the thing you are describing, for example fear, you use everything else in your arsenal to describe it such as metaphors, emotive language, hyperbole… the list could go on. You try not to simply say that the person ‘was afraid’.
The visit was particularly useful for the Year Thirteen students because as part of our English Literature coursework we have to write a piece of creative writing. At the end of the visit we presented Mr McLaverty with two Galway Crystal tumblers with the Glenlola insignia.
One of the most striking things that he said was that a writer isn’t necessarily the most intelligent or academic person. A writer is a person who sees the world a little differently. As English Literature students we study writers and their techniques but it’s a completely different thing to meet a published author, it was inspiring and extremely informative.
Browse the Junior School Aspect Poems, October 2012:
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