“Seeing Their Stories Take Shape: Fukien Secondary School” by Henrik Hoeg

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Henrik Hoeg with students from Fukien Secondary School

In partnership with Cha, I had the honour of visiting Fukien Secondary School in Kwun Tong to work with students on their short story writing skills. A group of 14 students selected from different class groups came together to develop their craft over two sessions.

The first session placed particular emphasis on use of imagery. After taking an overview of what imagery is, of which the students already had some notion, we focused on two main facets: using imagery purposefully and avoiding traps. Students were encouraged to analyse whether a given piece of imagery, in their own short stories, or in sample stories, was serving an actual purpose rather than simply present for the sake of it. Students were encouraged to identify the characterisation effects, subtext, and emotional impact that imagery could have. For this we drew on short story examples like The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu and The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster to provide examples that would be salient to their personal experiences. As for the traps of imagery, we focused on overuse and cliche, common foibles when first writing short stories. We discussed in particular the difficulty of understanding cliche when writing in your secondary language.
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The second session focused on captivating the reader through hooks, and how imagery might aid in writing a good hook.but can also be a hindrance. We drew on openings from famous stories, including the classic imagery based hook from Neuromancer: ‘The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel.’ From this we explored the idea that imagery hooks often rely on comparing two disparate, or even counter-intuitive things, if they hope to grab the audience. The surprising comparison or juxtaposition is often what makes the reader want to continue. Further, we explored easier hooks, that do not rely on imagery, and again, how to avoid cliches in this context. Finally, the students brought all the learning to bear by applying it to their own stories that they were working on, adding, tweaking, or removing imagery, and developing their opening hooks.
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The students at Fukien Secondary were eager to learn, and exceptionally engaged. It was a very rewarding experience to help them develop their writing craft, and to see their stories take shape.
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///// The Cha Writing Workshop Series: We plan to hold one to two writing workshops every month, for local school children (all levels), as well as economically and socially disadvantaged groups. If you’d like to suggest an idea, please contact the organisers, Tammy Ho (t@asiancha.com) and/or Eddie Tay (eddie@asiancha.com). Click here to see a list of past and future workshops. And click here to read instructors’ reflections on the workshops. /////

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Tuesday 17 April 2018

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Tuesday 24 April 2018

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Tuesday 24 April 2018

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