A hopelessly romantic writer at 17
Budding fiction writer, 17, wins UK Romantic essay prize
When she was 12, Sofia Amanda Bening wrote a story about a boy and his family who turned into fruits.
Now 17, the mass communications student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic is known for her odd stories with dark undertones.
Channelling her creative energy into a non-fiction essay was a first for Sofia.
But she emerged as the first Singaporean winner of the Young Romantics Prize, a competition run by the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association in the UK.
The competition allows participants to write an essay on any aspects of the lives of the Romantics, referring to the writers of an artistic movement in the 1800s, Romanticism, that emphasised emotions.
Sofia told The New Paper that she did not know what to write initially because the scope was so wide and she had wanted to write something different from the rest.
She spent January searching for inspiration by reading through many different works by the Romantic authors.
She said: "I really admire their style because it's very emotional and so dramatic. There's a lot of love, emotions, turmoil. It's very personal."
Eventually, Sofia noticed a trend in the poems she read - that dreams were a big deal. She explained that English poet Lord Byron's "The Dream" was a long and detailed poem about his dream.
She then drew parallels to other poems by John Keats and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which also involved their dreams.
She added: "Dreams must have meant a lot to them."
Completing her prize-winning essay "The Stuff That Romantic Dreams Are Made Of", took her three days and she just met the deadline.
On winning the prize, Sofia said: "Even if I didn't win, I'm glad I did it because I went out of my comfort zone and challenged myself.
"But it's still an affirmation for myself that I can write things that aren't just fiction."
Professor John Richardson, 60, the head of department of English language and literature at the National University of Singapore, said: "It's a good prize.
"I would be pleased if my students got it. (Sofia) should be proud of herself, especially since she's only 17 years old."