Friday, December 9, 2011

A New Style of Writing or A New Twist on an Old Style?

Not too long ago, a dear friend asked me to co-author a project with her. She planned to collect four novellas she would release as a novella collection, romantic at that (not my typical style, but it was a fun stretch). We worked and plotted until the four novellas were finished, but what we had at the end wasn't a typical romantic novella collection. Instead we had four linked stories. Ever read a series of linked stories? Until now, me neither.

From my understanding, linked stories are stories that have their own plots, their own characters, their own story elements, but they are interconnected by a common thread. In our book, A Summer in Oakville, the novellas are linked by a common goal: the desire to help the  Grandparents of the characters save their heritage. Each story builds on that link so by the end of the book, its as if you read five stories not four. The fifth story unravels as the book is read as a whole.

Writing linked stories has its benefits, especially if you find a like-minded co-author to write with you. You get to write with a friend **big bonus.** You have to plot and plan ahead which can translate into less editing later provided you read and critique each others work. Not to mention all the fun spent at your favorite coffee place during the plotting, planning, and critiquing time. You also have the benefit of bouncing all your ideas, all those 'what-if' questions, off someone just like you, another writer.

Linked story-telling became so much fun, I decided to take a similar challenge to a writing class I'm teaching at the EDGE (our local teen center). This year they are each member is to write a novella, but those novellas must maintain a link. You should hear the ideas they're throwing around. Imagine a classroom setting as the link. Every character meets back in the class, but each story is unique to their character. Oh they may bump into each other in separate stories or have secondary characters in common, but their tales are as unique as each writer/novella.  AND each novella adds to the story that unfolds inside the classroom. Sound interesting?

If writing a full-length novel intimidates you, has you frozen mid-type, try writing a series of shorter, linked stories. Better yet, grab a writer friend and split the work. Do it together and see what develops.

What linked story would you write? Where would your link be?

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