Author Topic: Idea for a Collection  (Read 3174 times)

alwaysblack

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 76
on: September 25, 2013, 04:27:01 PM
Hmm, I have a sort of idea. I want to write a set of stories that all share the same setting. They will be all independent stories in their own right, although some characters and locations may reoccur. In the background,  the setting's own 'events' will develop,  story by story, although not primarily because of what happens in each story.

I want the end effect to be threefold, a set of independent stories that stand alone, a more fully explored setting (because each story can focus on a particular aspect of the setting in detail) and for those that might be interested a sort of story jigsaw puzzle where someone who wanted to read them all in order could get a fuller picture of what was happening in the wider world (1+1+1=3).

So my questions are these, does anyone see any structural traps in this plan? And would it prejudice the submission of these stories to markets like the Escape Artist podcasts that they were part of a collection like this?

"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"


Sgarre1

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1214
  • "Let There Be Fright!"
Reply #1 on: September 25, 2013, 06:14:52 PM
Only if they didn't stand on their own as stories - and that doesn't just mean plot, it means character depth and motivation.  It's not impossible (I think it's been done before) but by looking at them singularly as marketable components of a larger whole, you're setting yourself the difficult task of finding ways of solidly re-introducing (even in supporting roles) characters into stories in new ways than they were previously introduced (for the new reader) without boring the reader who has read all the stories up to that point.  The best approach, especially regarding an overall payoff, is probably setting it over a long span of time so that enough events have happened in the lives of the once-main/now-supporting characters when they're re-introduced that the reader ends up doing some "outside of story" mental calculation as to what happened to them in between and how it reflects on the character's experiences when they were a main character.

I mean, Balzac pulled off something like this with LA COMEDIE HUMAINE but he was working with novels.  Not sure how things worked out for shared universes like SANCTUARY, HEROES IN HELL or WILD CARDS, but those are slightly different animals (multiple authors).  Good luck!



alwaysblack

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 76
Reply #2 on: September 25, 2013, 08:29:58 PM
Ah, thanks for this, it's exactly the kind of response I was hoping for.

It's definitely been done before, I can think of a few things along similar lines in various genres. In my fuzzy view of it, it'd work like the cross-story reader was a camera, moving through the world, settling on one scene, seeing it out, following a thread, branching off, settling on another scene etc.

e.g.
Story 1 - Halfway through the protagonist crashes his car, deals with the policeman, moves on with the story
Story 2 - The protagonist as a policeman, dealing with a car crash before getting called away in his story, catches his thief on a tip from a newspaper seller
Story 3 - The newspaper seller story about going home and murdering a loan shark etc etc

...and it works with just the witnesses of shared events too, not just character-relay. Like that movie I can never remember the name of, because the title is just the time. Next to impossible to google too.

And behind all the stories there's an election going on, or an earthquake and the resulting clean up or whatever.
I mean, not that, obviously, that's rubbish, but that kind of loose framing structure.

What I like about this idea, is that I'd be pretty much compelled to figure out each story from the get go, in a coherent pass, to make sure they fit together as whole as well as individually. And that means I'd have to answer a lot more questions about the world than would be necessary for one story on its own, but the resulting detail might enrich each story individually. Plus I'd only have to understand one world for many stories.

It's never going to work is it? Sounds like fun though.

"If I asked you where the hell we were," said Arthur weakly, "would I regret it?"


Sgarre1

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1214
  • "Let There Be Fright!"
Reply #3 on: September 25, 2013, 10:08:24 PM
Always worth trying!



Varda

  • Rebound
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2710
  • Definitely not an android.
Reply #4 on: October 01, 2013, 09:35:05 PM
Ray Bradbury did this masterfully with his short stories. Books like The Martian Chronicles and Dandelion Wine feature short stories with overlapping settings and characters that stand alone just fine, but are even more awesome collectively. Perhaps take a look at some of his work as a model.

Medical Microfiction: Stories About Science
http://rckjones.wordpress.com


Dantai

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #5 on: October 18, 2013, 06:14:19 PM
Check out Red Phone Box by Ghostwoods Books

It's this idea, but attempted with multiple authors. The end product is interesting, I'd say, but varies in quality. I don't think it's out yet. I got an advanced copy.

For the record I have no financial or social connection with Ghostwoods.