Do you want to spark a passion for writing in teenagers? Brigitte Rozario is the answer – she knows how to make it easy and exciting for them.
The writer-editor-trainer has been organising a Junior Writers Programme since 2018, where she teaches children how to plan storylines, make them relatable to readers, and what to add and edit to make them page-turners.
At the end of the seven-month programme, the students will submit a story each for a book that Rozario edits.
Rozario’s students have churned out six anthologies – Spiral Through Time, Writing KL, Lives Under Lockdown, Trouble Started, Secrets and Lies and the latest, The Eye: A Young Writers’ Anthology – which was launched at Bookxcess in Tropicana Gardens Mall, Petaling Jaya yesterday.
The Eye ‘sees’ 20 writers aged 12-16 explore macabre, creepy and bizarre stories, covering genres like mystery, crime and horror, with some drawing from personal experience to make their stories leap from the pages.
One such example is Mariah Aljuned, 15, whose story – A Million Teardrops – is about a girl who suffers from “blocked tear ducts, a rare condition that caused the leaking tears”.
As a result, her character, Emma, is the subject of bullying –something Mariah experienced when she was younger.
“The difference is that it was verbal abuse and not physical, as happened to Emma,” said Mariah.
“Before writing the story, I had to do tonnes of research. Then, I had to do plenty of editing, ensuring it flowed and captured the readers’ attention.
“I hope A Million Teardrops appeals to readers of all ages.”
Editing was something the 19 other writers admitted was the biggest challenge.
“Putting your idea down is easy, but making it make sense and concise is difficult,” said Naga Pranav Patcha, who also contributes regularly to Twentytwo13's Young Voices column.
“I learnt so much from the Junior Writers Programme. I am delighted to see my name in a book. Hopefully, it will be the first of many,” he added.
Rozario said she enjoyed working with the children and was delighted to see their effort bear fruit in the latest book.
“I wanted to stop after the fifth book, but here I am with another,” she laughed.
“It is rewarding to see the students progress in their writing career.”
Twentytwo13, will be publishing excerpts of selected stories from ‘The Eye’ in its Young Voices column in the coming weeks.
The Eye: A Young Writers’ Anthology is available in BookXcess stores at RM31.90. All royalties go to Yayasan Chow Kit, a non-profit organisation serving the needs of children and teens in the Chow Kit area of Kuala Lumpur.