Sharon X Wong

Writer of words. Builder of worlds.

Category: Musings Page 1 of 2

Every Heart A Doorway: Chapter By Chapter Analysis, Introduction and Prologue

This is new series in which I analyse Seanan McGuire’s novella Every Heart A Doorway, chapter by chapter. Every Heart a Doorway is a story about a boarding school for children who have come back from the fantastical journeys to other worlds. Whether it be the Halls of the Dead, a world of insects, or the setting for every gothic horror ever, each child had found a world where they felt at home, and now have to deal with the fact they aren’t there anymore. (Also, they have to deal with the fact that they’ve had experiences most people wouldn’t believe.) Also, there’s a murder mystery.

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Things I Learnt from Hotel Fulcrum

I’ve finally finished Summer at Hotel Fulcrum. This is the longest work of fiction I’ve completed by a long shot (probably the next longest would be under 2000 words). So this is a really big achievement for me, and a project that I’ve learnt a lot from. Specifically, the following:

Never publish a work in progress
I mean, I don’t regret publishing Hotel Fulcrum as a serial, because doing so gave me a schedule to stick to. But it’s obvious that what I have now is not what I started with, and I need to rewrite it a lot. Also, the added pressure to make it publish-worthy without actually being able to do so (because I was still working through the story) is not something I want to repeat. I admire fanfic and Wattpad writers who can just post every week and apparently still keep a story together. It’s not for me.

Scheduling and planning works (even more when the schedule is external)
I’ve been a pantser for a long time. But I’ve found a general plan does help me not write myself into a corner. And having goals for where in my story I want to be at a particular time works. Especially when I’ve told people I was going to publish every fortnight. That was helpful. There have been times where I’ve set time limits for my novels, only to throw those deadlines out the window. Couldn’t do that with this one which ultimately helped me finish it.

Editing is the Scariest Part of Writing
For me, at least. There were definitely times when I put off editing, or simply published without a final read-through, because the idea of rereading what I’d written and finding out exactly how much it sucked was not something I wanted to do. When I’m writing, there’s less pressure to make good words, because I know I can fix that in editing. However, when I’m editing, that safety net is gone. Editing is the safety. And yes, I am aware I can edit multiple times, (and I did), but that doesn’t take away the fear, seemingly. Especially when a deadline is looming. I’m going to have to dig into that and find ways to deal with it.

What Now?
I’m going back to focusing on short fiction, at least for the first half of this year. I’m hoping to have an anthology done by mid-year. About half the stories are already written, so on the bright side, there isn’t much left to do. On the not-so-bright side, most of that work will involved editing.
In terms of the blog, I have another series planned, but it’s more along the lines of book analysis rather than my own work. Stay tuned!

Update and Thoughts on Editing

So I haven’t posted anything lately. This is partly because I was caught up in NaNoWriMo (I won, but only by not sticking to a single project, which is still a win in my book) but also because I’ve been distracted by a number of other things. But I’m back! And I have plans.

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How not to write your story out of existence

Endings are very important. You can enjoy a story all the way up to the end, but sometimes the actual ending will be so bad it retroactively makes you hate the rest of the story.
Many say that the worst ending is “And then I woke up and it was all a dream.”

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Wolf Road: Setting that doesn’t overtake plot

Wolf Road, by Beth Lewis, is a post-apocalyptic Western. It centres on Elka, a girl who was lost in a forest far from home and ended up being raised by a man who turned out to be a serial murderer. Once she finds this out, she decides to run away and seek out her parents, but she is pursued by the murderer who raised her and the sheriff who wants to catch them both.

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My Favourite Mulan

Mulan is the first Disney live-action remake I’ve actually been tempted to see. I haven’t gone near any of the others, partly because they feel more like a money-grab rather than a genuine desire to bring something new to these stories, and partly because I don’t actually have a lot of nostalgia for Disney animations. I’m sure I watched them at some point (but not all of them) but they weren’t important to my childhood.

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Unexpected Waters

I can now say that I’ve seen water in a salt lake. It’s an unusual sight, especially as you can’t really venture onto a dry salt lake because there are a whole bunch of grasses, or reeds. Large unwelcoming vegetation. But a few weeks ago, I decided to go for a walk on a fine day that had followed several rainy days, and to my surprise, found the path flooded.

A path by a salt lake that actually looks like a lake (the path, not the lake)

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Howl’s Moving Castle and John Donne’s ‘Song’

Note: this post contains spoilers for the novel Howl’s Moving Castle, which by the way is vastly different from the movie adaptation. If you’ve only seen the movie, reading this will probably confuse you.

Diana Wynne Jones was a genius.
If I were to explain all the ways her genius comes through her writing, I’d be here all day. But I’m going to focus on one thing — her use of the poem Song (by John Donne) in her novel Howl’s Moving Castle.

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Online Writing Challenges: A Free Education

There are quite a few online writing challenges floating around these days. There’s the big one everyone knows about (National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo) and there’s also similar ones for short stories (StoryaDay), scripts (WriScriVember), and more. What’s the point of these, you may ask?

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Arrival vs Story of Your Life: New Ways of Thinking

Arrival is a 2016 sci-fi film written by Eric Heisserer and directed by Dennis Villeneuve, and tells the story of Louise Banks, a linguist who helps to communicate with aliens visiting Earth. It is based on Story of Your Life, a short story by Ted Chiang. If you have neither seen this film nor read this story, I very strongly encourage you to do one or the other before reading this blog post. I’m going to spoil both of them, and they are both excellent pieces of craft that do not deserve spoiling. Go now; the blog will still be here when you get back.

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