Weaving graceful tales for fun

Weaving graceful tales for fun

The winner of our short story contest this year is a wordsmith in the making


Grace Chong wrote the story in four days.
Grace Chong wrote the story in four days.
Photo: Thomas Yau/SCMP
Gracing the cover of Young Post once is a fine feat for Hong Kong youngsters. Doing so twice is quite an accomplishment. Grace Chong Ho-lan has done just that.

Our loyal readers have already come across Grace on Young Post's pages. Last year, the 16-year-old student at International Christian School won Hong Kong's Top Story Awards 2012, a writing competition co-organised by the South China Morning Post and Radio Television Hong Kong.

Putting the icing on the cake, the teen wordsmith has now won this year's Young Post Summer Story Writing Competition, whose theme was "You wouldn't believe what I'd just heard". Grace took an original approach by focusing on hearing as a sensation.

"Who appreciates hearing the most? People who can't hear," the young writer explains. "I decided that my leading character should have an injury that leads to a loss of her hearing. I didn't have any ideas, but then thinking about a recent Sports Day I thought I could do something related to a sports injury."

Grace's story begins with Jordyn, her teen protagonist, suffering a head injury during a rugby game. Jordyn wakes up to realise she has lost her hearing.

Grace drew her inspiration for the plot from a bit of personal experience: she, too, played rugby on Sports Day. Luckily, though, she wasn't injured. She named the main character of the story, as she did in her previous winning entry, Dear Jordan, after Jordyn Wieber, an American gymnast.

This past summer, Grace was browsing Young Post's website to see if there was a new writing competition coming up. There was indeed, but she found out about it only a week before the deadline. So the young writer had to rush to finish her story on time - which she did in four days.

Yet for all the hurry, Grace's story is well-thought-out, well-written and accomplished. It impressed the judges, the editors of the paper. "She blew us away, she did," says YP editor, Susan Ramsay. "She gave us a good story, which is not as easy as it sounds."

To write well, you need to read a lot, and Grace duly does. She especially loves reading realistic fiction. "For example, I like (US author) Jodi Picoult," she says. "[Her stories] are made-up but they take a lot from real life."

Grace also draws inspiration from her favourite author, Australia's Markus Zusak, who wrote the bestselling novel The Book Thief.

The up-and-coming writing prodigy wants to major in English at university, which shouldn't come as a surprise.

So does she want to become a full-time writer in future? "Sometimes I flirt with the idea," says Grace, who won book coupons sponsored by Dymocks. "But I feel it would be really, really hard. Still, I will definitely consider it."

You might also like:

- You'll Never Guess What I Just Heard by Grace Chong is the winning story in Young Post's 2013 Summer Story competition

- Hong Kong's publishing industry is growing, and the time is ripe for getting involved

- William Shakespeare has inspired thousands of literature lovers over the decades - yet many of his masterpieces have puzzled as many minds as they've pleased.



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