Author encourages students to read more and try new things to improve their writing

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 12:00am

DO YOU FIND reading interesting? If not, it might just be because you have not been trying hard enough.

'Words are very interesting. But to enjoy reading or writing, you have to put in the time and effort to learn and grasp the fundamental ability,' says award-winning local author Dung Kai-cheung.

Dung recently worked with several artists to produce a stage show called Fragmental Body Trilogy, which looks at the relationship between the body and the mind.

He created the programme brochure and booklet which featured six articles, each with a theme related to the human body. When writing, he tried to think of how he could use words to stimulate the senses.

'The nature of words has created a barrier - readers can't feel the experience directly from what is being described in words.

'They have to transform what they read into feelings,' he says.

For Dung, words are not like other media such as video or dance.

'People cannot get excitement and enjoyment from reading without going through a learning process,' the author says.

'But young people nowadays don't have the patience to do this. They prefer something which they get satisfaction out of more easily.'

Since 1992, Dung - a comparative literature master from the University of Hong Kong - has written more than 10 books, including the award-winning novel The Double Body and the short-story collection The Rose Of The Name.

Some of his story ideas, like The Double Body - a story about a man who finds he has turned into a woman one morning - come from books he has read, such as Czech author Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

Self-awareness, observation, information gathering and research are other sources of inspiration.

For Dung, imagination is an important key to linking up all these elements to create a story. 'Writing is like an adventure.'

Everything in the story did not exist, but during the writing process, a possible world emerges where something brand new can appear, the 34-year-old says. 'I get all sorts of things and experiences from it.'

Besides writing books, Dung set up Doo Foo Kei Writecraft last year, where he runs writing workshops for students.

'It's quite meaningful. Students seldom have the opportunity to take part in interesting and fun writing activities outside the classroom,' he says.

Games and fun activities are used during the workshops to stimulate students' imagination.

Holding the workshops is also a good way for the author to earn a living. He laments it is impossible to make a living creating literature in Hong Kong.

Through the workshops, Dung has discovered that students are not that keen on writing, and when they do, all tend to write in a similar way.

'When they are free to write, it is often not something they have created by themselves. It all comes from what they have picked up from school and the mass media.

'It means that everybody does similar things, reads the same newspaper, watches the same TV programmes and films, and listens to the same singers.

'The world becomes so narrow and homogeneous,' he says.

The author recommends that students try more things to discover their individual potential.