1. Writer Ray
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    Writer Ray New Member

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    Multiple small plots to make a whole book.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Writer Ray, Jan 7, 2015.

    I started writing a story today about a tenth grader in a strange town called Nightwatch. Now this strange town isn't going to end up being a murder or horror town, it is just strange when compared to what we consider normal.

    In this story I want to make it essentially a bunch of short stories that never break in between. It is basically a a large short story collection with the the characters and the settings (and maybe past events if they are relevant) carrying over. Would this work? Would it be better if I figured out a way to make it more traditional and have one large story arch throughout the entire thing?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What do you mean by "work"?

    I don't mean that facetiously... what are your standards of success for this project?
     
  3. Writer Ray
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    Writer Ray New Member

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    I guess I mean would it be readable. If I book were to be published in such a format, would it be well received?
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the word "episodic" might apply? Like, same characters, having adventures... like a TV show without a season arc.

    It's been done. But it's not standard. I personally think I'd find it a bit unsatisfying, and would rather have something carrying over through the entire book.
     
  5. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's doable. I've recently read a book like that.
     
  6. Writer Ray
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    Writer Ray New Member

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    Might I ask the name of the book? I would be interested in seeing how they did theirs.
     
  7. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a blurb from The Vancouver Sun

    "Constructed as a series of connected short stories, Ellen in Pieces is unique, wise, funny and heartbreaking."
     
  8. Writer Ray
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    Writer Ray New Member

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    Thank you! I will definitely see if our library carries it.
     
  9. feathersinflight
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    feathersinflight Member

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    I'd definitely be fine if your novel were presented episodically, but I think it'd be nice if there were some overarching story line or theme to tie all the little stories together...
     
  10. Writer Ray
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    Writer Ray New Member

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    Well, there is a theme. Basically, the town is weird, and each story will ideally be exploring a different aspect of the town and how the main character (who just moved there) is adapting.
     
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  11. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps you could initially publish one short story at a time, then collect into a single anthology at some point in the future? Or are they too connected for that?
     
  12. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it sounds pretty interesting, and I'd definitely want to see how an "episodic" book/short story collection works in reality. If it's what you want to do, I'd say that you go for it. Not sure if it will work? Well, make it work.
     
  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is it possible to have one unifying theme that would run through them? Maybe not quite as concrete as an overarching plot, but... something to give a sense of completion at the end of the story?
     
  14. Writer Ray
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    Writer Ray New Member

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    Yeah, like I said, the town is the theme. That and, more specifically, the school the main character goes to in the town (not to say there won't be multiples "episodes" that he won't be in the school).
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    But will something about the town or the school have been changed by the end of the book? Like, would someone turn the page expecting another episode, or would they have a good sense that the book was over?
     
  16. Writer Ray
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    Writer Ray New Member

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    Hmm, that is a good question. I do have a reference in the beginning how he will become a Night Owl, what the citizens like to call themselves, with enough time. I could end it with something along the lines of "And with that, Jack himself became a Night Owl through and through." or I could even extend it beyond that, If I get really obsessive with writing it I could end with him graduating twelfth grade (the book starts with him in tenth).

    The town itself will not change, for the most part, but ideally every character introduced will be a dynamic character, changing as they meet each other and different things happen. People's individual lives will change, and relationships will change. That type of stuff.

    I literally came up with this idea this morning and only have a couple thousand words written so it is still heavily in the work-out-how-it-will-work phase.
     
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  17. BoddaGetta
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    BoddaGetta Active Member

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    As long as you give each character in each story equal bearing and don't jump point of view too much, I don't see the harm in it. Maybe do it in the form of a frame narrative to tie together the beginning and end? That's how some short story collections with a common theme manage to do it.

    Or just use the swap in point-of-view as another "story," which makes it more unified. The fact that it all happens in the same town [I presume at the same time?] would mean some of the stories overlap or characters interact with each other for it to be believable. If it's not cohesive enough you'll lose the drive to write, or where your characters were heading in the plot. Same with readers that may get frustrated if the story jumps before a question is answered.
     
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  18. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Worked for Last Exit to Brooklyn.
     
  19. whimsy
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    whimsy New Member

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    I don't know why, but when I read your little hints about the story I immediately thought it sounds like a good idea for a graphic novel. Probably because the idea reminds me a bit of a comic strip. I think it could work. And if your town is really strange, actually seeing it in a drawing beside your text would be a nice bonus.
     
  20. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I'm hoping it's something like a toned down and subtle "Welcome to Nightvale", because I would read the shit out of that book.
     
  21. Writer Ray
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    Writer Ray New Member

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    I may have drawn a wee bit of influence from that, but there is not going to be any supernatural stuff in it I don't think. I did think about saying something about a glow cloud in reference to that though.
     
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  22. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I would not do that. Don't telegraph your moves here. The people who know will know, and the people who don't might discover it later.
     
  23. Writer Ray
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    Writer Ray New Member

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    It probably wouldn't have been that one in particular, because that would be way too obvious. You get the idea though. :)
     
  24. I Am Vague
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    I Am Vague Active Member

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    I noticed this kind of style in Breaking Bad which I recently just started watching. I don't see any reason it won't work as long as it keeps the reader interested, but some people might not like that kind of style. You have your "What's the point?" people who aren't just happy with going along for the ride and want to see some sort of goals reached. One problem, I could maybe see is if you keep going on and on and on and where you decide to end things isn't "up to par" with the rest of the events leading up to it.

    Long story short, write what you want as long as you think it's interesting through and through. It's unique. Who gives a shit what picky people will think, write for yourself first; others second.
     
  25. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd think of this in terms of sub-plots rather than episodes. Some stories could be sequential and others you could run in parallel. Save the best resolution for the end, but you probably won't know which that is until you've written it. You could do a lot of editing here as you change the sequence of events and order of the story elements. Ultimately, you may discover what the book is all about and this will guide you as to it's overall story.
     
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