A class with visiting author Michael Kardos

Kat '16 shares her impressions of a recent visit by Michael Kardos, author of the recently-released novel, "Before He Finds Her" (February 2015), to her class with English teacher Tim Hedges.

Twice a term, Mr. Hedges brings a visiting writer to teach our creative writing elective. Michael Kardos, a delightfully quirky fiction writer, visited Peddie on Wednesday afternoon. In the week leading up to his arrival, my class analyzed his short stories, taking note of specific strategies he used to craft an array of intriguing characters and scenes. When Kardos addressed our class, he honed in on a specific—but vital—lesson of writing.
Author Michael Kardos visits Mr. Hedges' English class.
There are five types of sentences a writer can use to tell a story: dialogue, narration, description, exposition, and interior monologue.

Kardos passionately explained that all five are essential to engage a reader, yet the formula in how they are utilized is up to the writer. Different writers choose to rely on different amounts of each: Hemingway writes succinctly, with emphasis on dialogue and narration, while Virginia Woolf’s writing exudes lavish description and interiority.

After the lecture, we each wrote a scene about a boy named Stan who was dealing with a specific problem. The catch, Kardos explained, was that we were only allotted two of the above sentence types to tell the story. I was challenged to use an abundance of dialogue and narration, letting word choice and movements keep the scene intriguing. After hearing my classmates share their scenes aloud, I discovered how unique an identical character’s tale could be, depending on the type of sentences used.

What I love most about visiting writers is that they instantly bring a fresh perspective to our classroom, and leave us with a renewed sense of vigor and eagerness to write. The opportunity to work with Kardos was incredible. During our question and answer session, he discussed how he overcame writer’s block, how he handled the challenge of writing from a teenage girl’s point of view, and how he frequently uses New Jersey to frame his stories. Mr. Hedges continues to bring intriguing writers to campus, and I cannot wait for the next seminar!