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On Writing > Short Story cycles

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message 1: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I'm just takin' a temperature out here. I've been considering writing a short story cycle, the kind where the stories are sort of loosely or tightly stitched together... where it's obviously a whole story, just not one told in a linear, novel format.

I've read some really successful ones. Joyce Carol Oates, for one. Mary Gaitskill. Really, it's practically its own sub-genre of the short story at this point. And there are novels that do this, too, I know. But I want to vary my voices pretty widely.

What do you guys think of them? Do you have any stellar examples I can take a peek at? Anything you really hate about them?

I have it in my head to create something where there is a method to the interlocking pieces, maybe even significance to the number of stories, etc. to lend to the cohesiveness. But I also want the pieces to stand alone.

There are a few reasons I'm considering doing it this way, mostly having to do with point of view, perspective, and being able to overlap stories of the characters. But also because I need to get started, and when I confront the idea of a "whole novel" I worry about carrying a single story.


message 2: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments Actually, Shel, I think I know what you're talking about and I'm reading a novel just like that, with interlocking stories with different POVs that are all part of the same story. The novel is called "The Imperfectionists" by Tom Rachman and the way the stories are connected is by a newspaper that all the stories hover around.

It's definitely a different format, but so far I'm loving the way it's put together. I think I remember JE giving that novel a plug a while back, so I think there's definitely a good chance that what you're trying to do would work quite well. Anyway, I encourage you to check that novel out because I think it is just what you're looking for!


message 3: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
There's always Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."


message 4: by Noreen (new)

Noreen | 6 comments I've been lurking around this group for a year, always so impressed by the exchanges, but a little reluctant to post because it seems you all know each other off-line. (Off-line, I'm the director of The Center for Fiction in NYC. www.centerforfiction.org)

But I couldn't resist weighing in on this one because there are two examples of the form that I really love: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, which won the Pulitzer, and A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.


message 5: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Feel free to post, Noreen. We all met online--or most of us did--and while I consider some of these folks to be good friends, I haven't yet met any of them in person.


message 6: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments Chris wrote: "Feel free to post, Noreen. We all met online--or most of us did--and while I consider some of these folks to be good friends, I haven't yet met any of them in person."

That's the same for me...I've yet to meet any of these wonderful people in real life. The wonders of the Internet!


message 7: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Seconded, Noreen. There is a handful of us that get together every year but the group started out on MySpace in... 07? and is mostly virtual.

I love these suggestions! This kind of work is all over the place. I want to write something where the very pattern of the interlocking has meaning, too... but the incidental appearance of one character in another story has a lot of appeal, too.


message 8: by Noreen (new)

Noreen | 6 comments Thanks, Chris and Ry and Shel! From now on, less lurking and a bit more posting.


message 9: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Trainspotting is one of those. Calvino's Invisible Cities too. Bradbury Martian Chronicles too. Stevenson Suicide Club (of the Diamond Rajah or the New thousands nights) too.


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