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Winning way with words

Three friends with a talent for the written word will have their stories published in a new fiction collection.

Renwick School pupils Li-Na Chapman, 12, Emma McWhirter, 12, and Emma Withers, 13  will each have stories published in a national anthology.

The talented trio saw off competition from thousands of other school-aged hopefuls.

And the girls will travel to Rotorua with their families for the book’s launch at the end of the month.

For the girls, who are all part of the school’s Renwick Acceleration Programme (RAP), the win is a dream come true.

Entitled Beyond Strange, the anthology will include stories all based in New Zealand.

Writing is a passion for the three talented Renwick School pupils. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

A tale based around the Kaikoura earthquake won Emma McWhirter a place in the book while Li-Na opted for a story highlighting the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s arrival in Marlborough. She penned her story from the point of view of a young Maori boy.

Emma Withers wrote about moas with supernatural powers that allowed them to be invisible to humans, written in the form of a diary.

The friends say that keeping to the 750-word limit was their biggest issue.

“I had a few sleepless nights working to get my story down to 750 words,” says Li-Na.

“It’s a real pleasure to write, writing something that’s bigger than me and creating something.

“It’s a real achievement.”

Her thoughts are echoed by her fellow writers, who all share a passion for their craft.

Emma McWhirter says that for her, writing is a compulsion.

“I have to do it. I get an idea in my head and I just have to get it out.”

Using both a pen and keyboard, Emma Withers says she comes up with an idea and then develops it as she writes.

“It’s all about getting your words and ideas and putting them to paper. I start with an idea that just grows until it’s a whole story.

“When you get an idea, it’s hard to leave it alone,” she says.

Their writing teacher Robyn Lyall says she is proud of what the girls have achieved.

“I’m so proud of them. It’s a New Zealand-wide competition with a lot of entries.”

A pupil at the school, Ellen Theobald, took out the top spot in last year’s competition.

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