NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - Geoff Rodkey recalls always using his imagination as a young child. He would ride his bicycle and pretend he was instead flying a World War II fighter plane. Rodkey, the author of the "Chronicles of Egg" adventure series and the Emmy-nominated screen writer of several hit films including "Daddy Day Care" and "RV" visited West Essex Middle School on Wednesday to talk to students about his writing.

Credit: Allison Freeman
 

"I always liked making things up, but I never wrote anything down," Rodkey said of when he was a young boy. When he played tennis, he imagined that he was Eric Clapton and pretended to play guitar in his racket in between points, he said. Then he wrote funny articles for the school newspaper, some of which no one found funny, he said.
 
Rodkey told students that if they want to become an imaginative writer, they should read lots of books and listen during English class. "To tell a great story, you need two things," he said. "You need a character and a problem."
 
You also need real life experiences, Rodkey said, explaining how things in his own life influenced him and inspired him.

The author described how he used to take long car trips traveling with his family and would sit in the backseat with his sister, who did not like him, which inspired him to come up with the screenplay for the film "RV." Then when he stayed home with his baby while his wife went to work, he wrote the screenplay for "Daddy Daycare."


Credit: Allison Freeman
 
"If you write something that emotionally means something to you, then it will have more of an emotional meaning to the audience," Rodkey said. "What makes writing better is having an emotional connection to what you are writing."
Rodkey spoke to students in the auditorium and then in the Middle School Library.