BFA Planning: Linked Stories

I have (almost) exactly a year until my final semester at Emerson, when I’ll be putting together a creative thesis to earn my BFA. This means, mostly because I plan everything far far FAR in advance, that it is time to make some decisions. My initial inclination was to write a collection of short stories incorporating space without trudging into murky sci-fi waters.

But that was short lived. Since then I’ve become enamored with the concept of linked stories: short stories that can stand alone, but also work together to tell a larger story, akin to a novel. This will probably be significantly harder to do, because I’ll have to focus in on a single subject instead of jumping around (as I’m inclined to do), but I think it will be worth the challenge.

I have all-but-officially-decided to write a series of linked stories about Dillon, a character from my story “Where He Would Be,” a hit in my last workshop that’s currently making submission rounds at a few literary journals. He’s a pretty awkward fourth grader and I’d really like to watch what happens as, and when, he grows up.

The challenge will be, of course, to make sure the stories work alone. I don’t want to write a novel. I want to be able to send these stories out, then work them in together. For inspiration, I’ve made a list of eighteen such collections to read between now and then:

  • Elizabeth Strout – Olive Kitteridge
  • Paul Auster – Invisible
  • James Frey – Bright Shiny Morning
  • Daniyal Mueenuddin – In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
  • Gloria Naylor – The Women of Brewster Place
  • Paul Yoon – Once the Shore
  • Victoria Patterson – Drift
  • Rebecca Barry – Later, at the Bar
  • Tim O’Brien – The Things They Carried
  • Bret Easton Ellis – The Informers
  • Donald Ray Pollock – Knockemstiff
  • Kate Walbert – Our Kind
  • Monica Ali – Alentejo Blue
  • Alice Fulton – The Nightingales of Troy
  • Joan Silber – Ideas of Heaven
  • Sara Pritchard – Lately
  • Tim Winton – The Turning
  • Sandra Cisneros – The House on Mango Street

Does anyone have any suggestions of books to add to the list? I want to make sure I read a few whose stories are far far different from one another, but still (at least kind of) flow.

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One thought on “BFA Planning: Linked Stories

  1. I recently became aware of Catherine Valente’s work, In the Cities of Coin and Spice, which is a melange of sequential tales some realistic, some fairytale, some postmodern, most all Arabian Nights influenced. The thing that draws me though is her voice, the use of poetic imagery and the richness of the language. I just started her more recent novel Palimpsest which blurs the specialty genres even more for me. I love this shit!

    Luck with your book!

    Jana

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