1. jaebird
    Offline

    jaebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    United States

    Will This Work?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jaebird, Sep 8, 2014.

    I’m currently working on a story that’s comprised of five shorter stories, each with their own plot, beginning, middle, conclusion, etc. but they all have the same characters, and the entire novel follows them across each one, and they're all connected to each other. I’m just wondering, though, am I wasting my time with all that? I really like the character’s stories being told in a sort of episodic way, but the book is getting so long that I’m probably going to have to spread it across two novels, the second made up of several short stories as well. Sometimes I really doubt that writing it this way is a good idea. I’ve never read a story told in this way before. Any thoughts?
     
  2. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,685
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    First of all, you should know that, common usage notwithstanding, the verb "comprise" has no passive form. The phrase you are looking for is "composed of".

    James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific is much like a collection of short stories, but within a general theme. Some of the characters reappear, some don't. However, it sounds to me as if you don't really have a unifying theme or story line. In fact, it strikes me that you may not have a very clear conception of what you are aiming for. If this is simply a writing exercise, writing for its own sake, then that's fine.

    But you ask, "Will this work?" and that's a question I always identify with a desire to be published. And in that case, as soon as you got to "spread it across two novels", the STOP sign must be raised. First time novelists do not get signed for multiple works. They get signed for one clear, interesting, well-conceived, well-written, thoroughly edited, concisely-told story. My advice is to find a nice, quiet, private place and ask yourself, "What do I want this to be?" Then ask, "What purpose do I want this to serve? Learning experience? Personal entertainment? Attempt at being traditionally published? Attempt at self-publishing?" Then decide how you will tell that singular story or multiple-stories-within-a-story. And then proceed.

    There will be those who will tell you to just let it pour out and you can organize it at a later date, but you are already encountering the drawbacks to that approach. And your instincts are telling you, too. That's good. That instinct, that dissatisfaction, is at the core of becoming a good writer.

    Best of luck.
     
  3. Bjørnar Munkerud
    Offline

    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    140
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    Cloud Atlas, The Canterbury Tales and several other stories have done things like this, and I'm planning on doing something similar myself, and it absolutely can work. It's a very hard style to master, though, I'm sure, because there has to be some balance between making the stories interesting and realistic in their own rights, but at the same time ease the transition between each story for the reader, so that they still feel vested in the story and can understand it as it progresses. My advice is simply that you take your time with the planning beforehand and look into all the ways you can make the characters interesting and have some sort of common thread passing through it all, because I'm sure it can be very interesting if done well, and I absolutely think your idea is fascinating.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,997
    Likes Received:
    5,506
    Despite the link between the stories, I would see this as a book of short stories. I have a vague notion that books of short stories are hard to sell, but I can't point to where I got that impression.
     
  5. PensiveQuill
    Offline

    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Messages:
    358
    Likes Received:
    210
    Location:
    Australia
    It depends how well each of these episodes ties into an overall theme or plot. Katherine Kerr did this in her Deverry series by following the same characters through multiple lifetimes at different points in history. The thing is, she set out a theme and a plot question for those episodes that drove each of the lifetimes forward on this larger goal. At the start of the story we have karmic events set in motion. Then every substory was not only answering the questions of that lifetime but also added to the overall plot first set out.

    Its only in that context that the reader can time travel, and recognise the same characters by different names and make sense of it all.
     
  6. jaebird
    Offline

    jaebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    43
    Location:
    United States
    The novel does have a main theme that I'm trying to weave into each separate story. Like following a character through several different adventures, but from the events you know that something larger is going on. I know I need to work on that more, and it is a hard style to do. Thanks for the book examples of stories done similar to this. I was hoping to find something I could look at to see how other writers do it. And thanks for your thoughts.
     

Share This Page