Short story series?

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
User avatar
Mike Dickson
Posts: 104
Joined: August 13th, 2010, 2:37 pm
Location: Minneapolis
Contact:

Short story series?

Post by Mike Dickson » November 29th, 2010, 4:00 pm

Just had a thought. Can one write a series of short stories about the same plot but from different characters pov?

If so, is it marketable?

User avatar
Watcher55
Posts: 741
Joined: November 27th, 2010, 8:25 am
Location: Plantser-ville
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by Watcher55 » November 29th, 2010, 4:15 pm

Asimov did it.

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by polymath » November 29th, 2010, 4:20 pm

Alice Childress' A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich has eleven viewpoint characters each with subtly but distinctly different points of view and voices. Twenty-three chapters of dramatic monologues from eleven characters' perspectives, though it's a novel in the sense you mean, each character's perspective stands apart like a short story.

One challenge I see is maintaining thematic unity. Childress accomplishes unity through focused attention to the central theme.
Spread the love of written word.

User avatar
Mike Dickson
Posts: 104
Joined: August 13th, 2010, 2:37 pm
Location: Minneapolis
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by Mike Dickson » November 29th, 2010, 6:52 pm

How about a series of short stories that are all related but can stand on their own? What about a series of short stories compiled into one book that build on each other?

For a quick example:

#1 A man's wife is kidnapped. To get her back he must rob a jeweler and deliver the diamonds. A gun fight breaks out during his robbery.

#2 An innocent bystander and his girlfriend are caught in the crossfire.

#3 The feds are stationed across the street and have been watching this jeweler who has mafia ties. The gun fight breaks out in front of them.

#4 The man's wife and her entire ordeal from kidnapping to ending with her husband delivering the diamonds securing her release.


Obviously I didn't lay out an entire plot for each short story here as it's an example but hopefully you get the idea.

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by polymath » November 29th, 2010, 7:21 pm

To me that's pretty much a novel comprised of multiple viewpoint characters' different perspectives of one central event, an ensemble cast with post hoc coincidental connections. If each installment is a stand-alone plot in its own right, there would still need to be an overarcing plot with all of a plot's benchmarks in order to unify thematically like a novel. A short story collection that does that is One Thousand and One Nights, (Arabian NIghts). Narrator of the frame story Scheherazade's story wraps a collection of otherwise unrelated traditional folklore tales. Grimms' Fairy Tales and Aesop's Fables are short story collections sans a unifying frame story or any logical plot-unifying correlation for that matter.

Other ways to unite a thematically relevant short story collection besides a frame story might include setting, complication as pertains to plot, idea, character, and event relations, SPICE, while avoiding post hoc and propter hoc fallacies. I've read several science fiction collections that bridged gaps between between previously published short stories into a novelization by applying one or more of those emphases.
Spread the love of written word.

User avatar
Quill
Posts: 1059
Joined: March 17th, 2010, 9:20 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by Quill » November 29th, 2010, 7:34 pm

It sounds doable and, actually, great. I'm not familiar with a published collection like this, but I have a friend considering just such a project. You might check out the movies constructed like this, to some degree at least, such as Nashville, and Traffic, and Babel, and Crash. If it works for film, I don't see why it wouldn't in print form.

User avatar
Robin
Posts: 315
Joined: April 8th, 2010, 9:09 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by Robin » November 29th, 2010, 7:36 pm

Quill wrote:It sounds doable and, actually, great. I'm not familiar with a published collection like this, but I have a friend considering just such a project. You might check out the movies constructed like this, to some degree at least, such as Nashville, and Traffic, and Babel, and Crash. If it works for film, I don't see why it wouldn't in print form.
I was thinking the same thing... let me know how it goes.
Robin
"A glass slipper is only a shoe. Dreamers who only dream never have their dreams come true."

http://www.RobynLucas.com/

Sommer Leigh
Moderator
Posts: 1624
Joined: April 2nd, 2010, 11:07 pm
Location: Omaha, NE
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by Sommer Leigh » November 29th, 2010, 10:26 pm

Yes! It can be done! It also makes for an excellent read. See A.M. Homes book "The Safety of Objects." It is an excellent book and does exactly what you're wondering about. It is comprised of a bunch short stories that stand completely on their own about different people living in a pretty white bread suburban neighborhood but all is not as suburban and perfect as it seems. All of the characters live in the same neighborhood, many of them know each other, their stories are their own and yet in some small or big way they tie into each other. They made a movie out of it which is also very good. The movie does not cover all of the stories in the book though, just a handful, but what it does cover I thought was done well. It features a creepy much younger Kristen Stewart who plays a tomboy I did not realize was actually a girl until I re-watched it last year and recognized Kristen's name.
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.

User avatar
Mike Dickson
Posts: 104
Joined: August 13th, 2010, 2:37 pm
Location: Minneapolis
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by Mike Dickson » November 30th, 2010, 6:51 pm

I think it could work too. The trick is to make sure that each story can stand on it's own. With that said, the difficulty in my opinion would be writing the stories so if read out of order, the reader isn't lost. To expand on that, I would not only want to write a series of related short stories but a series of stories progressing on one another. Does that make sense?

Fenris
Posts: 293
Joined: October 27th, 2010, 10:02 am
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by Fenris » November 30th, 2010, 8:03 pm

It's certainly an interesting idea, definitely worth trying out if it's your cup of tea. Now, as for "stories progressing on one another," if you mean what I think you meant, then yes it's certainly possible (I'm assuming you meant this: taking the previous idea, of short stories that are essentially the same story taken from different POVs, and making it so that each short story adds a bit more than what the previous ones did, so eventually you'd progress along the timeline of the plot). It might be difficult, but that might just be me: I can't write short stories to save my life.

Or did you mean that one "short story" (one POV) might point out something the others had missed, something that leads the overarching plot onward? This would happen repeatedly, of course, in little steps and from different POVs, so one story wouldn't be the sole key to the plot.

I hope I'm at least in the ballpark.
Hi, my name's Fenris. I'm a thousand-year-old monster who's broken free to destroy the world. Your kids will love me!

User avatar
Mike Dickson
Posts: 104
Joined: August 13th, 2010, 2:37 pm
Location: Minneapolis
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by Mike Dickson » December 1st, 2010, 10:55 am

Fenris wrote:It's certainly an interesting idea, definitely worth trying out if it's your cup of tea. Now, as for "stories progressing on one another," if you mean what I think you meant, then yes it's certainly possible (I'm assuming you meant this: taking the previous idea, of short stories that are essentially the same story taken from different POVs, and making it so that each short story adds a bit more than what the previous ones did, so eventually you'd progress along the timeline of the plot).
Yes, you are partially right. I was thinking more related stories and not POV's. At some point each story will be affected by the same disaster (temporarily sharing a different pov during the disaster) but then going off on their own story line, at the same time progressing the timeline.

Sounds pretty tricky, but doable.

User avatar
Watcher55
Posts: 741
Joined: November 27th, 2010, 8:25 am
Location: Plantser-ville
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by Watcher55 » December 1st, 2010, 11:01 am

I like to model my ideas with work that's similar work to pick up tips on how to pull it off. A couple of movies come to mind CRASH (Is Sandra Bullock amazing or what?) and I think the other one was AMERICAN HISTORY X (sorry to say I haven't added that one to my collection. There's nothing wrong with stealing ideas, all mine are.

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by polymath » December 1st, 2010, 11:10 am

I think for the sake of unity, which according to several poeticists is the law of dramatic arts, if there is one, each viewpoint character's relation to the main dramatic complication is critical. And therefore, the main dramatic complication's causing individual dramatic complications. In order to neatly wrap things up then, each ought best to have a final outcome of their individual dramatic complications as well an outcome of the main dramatic complication; therefore, a transformation for each and for the whole. Complication and transformation are two of the more prominent features of plot.
Spread the love of written word.

User avatar
Mike Dickson
Posts: 104
Joined: August 13th, 2010, 2:37 pm
Location: Minneapolis
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by Mike Dickson » December 1st, 2010, 11:36 am

polymath wrote:I think for the sake of unity, which according to several poeticists is the law of dramatic arts, if there is one, each viewpoint character's relation to the main dramatic complication is critical. And therefore, the main dramatic complication's causing individual dramatic complications. In order to neatly wrap things up then, each ought best to have a final outcome of their individual dramatic complications as well an outcome of the main dramatic complication; therefore, a transformation for each and for the whole. Complication and transformation are two of the more prominent features of plot.
Yes, exactly what I'm thinking. If done correctly, is there a market for it?

User avatar
polymath
Posts: 1821
Joined: December 8th, 2009, 11:22 am
Location: Babel
Contact:

Re: Short story series?

Post by polymath » December 1st, 2010, 11:47 am

I'd say there's an adult niche for it. I wouldn't place it in an experimental category. I would think it might be a build-upon, a further literary development I feel some niches are ready for. The greater challenge would in my estimation be handling of multiple reader surrogates. If all the focal characters are intended as reader surrogates I think that's a daunting task, but theoretically doable.
Spread the love of written word.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests