1. NeeNee
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    NeeNee Member

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    Stringing a series of stories together? Good idea?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by NeeNee, Sep 15, 2016.

    I am working on a ghost story and feel like it is falling flat.
    In my novel writing class we discussed how some novels are mainly a series of stories with one central element that ties them all together. I am thinking about doing that with my story.

    My main focus has always been the setting more so than the actual characters. The setting is based on a real location in Ohio, it is a huge cemetery with lots of beautiful ornate hand carved statues, mausoleums, and a large Victorian style house sitting on the property. The house was built in 1848, the same year the cemetery was established.
    The setting is real but the story is mainly my imagination, plus some of the historical ghost stories that have been tossed around about the place over the years.

    If I do this style of writing a novel, do I need to have some central character in the story or can the house and cemetery itself be the main characters?
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Tom Rachman did something like this in his novel, The Imperfectionists, which was about a group of people working for a struggling periodical in Italy. Each chapter focused on a different character, but there was one who was common to several, so that it all held together.
     
  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the film world they're known as Portmanteau, and the British horror studio Amicus made several of these in the 70s.

    In that yours in a ghost story, I think you could do worse than study these films.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amicus_Productions#Films
     
  4. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're planning on sticking to the novel path, I'd definitely consider having a character that is central to the whole thing, even if he or she isn't the focal character the whole time. Of course, I wouldn't say you can't do it, but pulling off a novel without a main character or where the cast is changing completely over the course of it would be a tough sell. That said, you could always give it a try and see how beta readers respond. I'm not super familiar with the horror genre--this could be a more common practice there.

    Alternatively, this could work as a series of short stories--that way you're not beholden to sharing characters between them and can focus on a different common element, like the setting you described.
     
  5. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    It is much harder to sell a short story collection, even with linked or connected stories, than a novel. If you plan to try and publish this, I would stick with the novel approach. To sell a short story collection, the author has usually already sold and/or published several of the stories to well-known venues. No matter which way you go, I think the characters should be more important than the setting. I have read books where the setting almost seems like a character itself, but, still, the characters are what made it a good story.
     
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  6. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good point to mention. Of course, just because the short stories are linked doesn't mean they have to be sold as a collection, as long as they can stand on their own.

    This is key, though. As a reader, you relate to characters. They're what drive the emotion in the story, which gets the reader invested.
     
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  7. NeeNee
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    NeeNee Member

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    My son suggested that I have the main character reading old newspaper clippings to get the information or to have a medium or ghost hunter interviewing the ghosts of the cemetery and have them tell their stories that way.

    I haven't worked out yet how the stories will be linked beyond the fact they will all be the same location, just different decades.
     
  8. hawls
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    hawls Active Member

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    You don't need to have central characters. However, I think most readers would prefer it.

    It's kind of hard to relate to the every day struggles and misadventures of an inanimate object. Even The Secret Garden was less about the garden and more about the children visiting it.

    Your setting sounds amazing. Now think about the kind of person who might want to visit/explore it. Then think about what that person might discover. What does that discovery lead to?
     
  9. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ahh, "Tales From the Crypt" will be reborn.

    It might be interesting to use an object as a character, such as a particular grave site has caused other deaths, worker falls into the hole on their shovel (are there female grave diggers?), during a flood the casket pops out and clobbers some live flood victims, a visitor sees their name on the headstone which leads to stupid actions and eventual death, grave robbers dig it up only to get some terrible disease (love those old Egyptian tomb stories), a metal urn poisons the local water supply (okay a big stretch, maybe it is laced with plutonium), the list could go on but I can see where breathing life into these stories might be difficult. However that house placed over an ancient alien burial ground/crash site should produce some good ghost stories.
     

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