A novel-in-stories

The Crystal Ballroom red and black book cover

Three weeks till launch of my second novel ‘The Crystal Ballroom’, a novel-in-stories.

So what is a novel-in-stories? One famous example  is Elizabeth Strout’s Pullitzer Prize-winning ‘Olive Kitteridge’.

‘A penetrating, vibrant exploration of the human soul, the story of Olive Kitteridge will make you laugh, nod in recognition, wince in pain, and shed a tear or two.’ – Goodreads

‘In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge.’

yellow Olive Kitteridge book cover

A novel-in-stories, or connected short stories that together become more than the sum of their parts,  is also known as a short story cycle.

‘A short story cycle (sometimes referred to as a story sequence or compositenovel) is a collection of short stories in which the narratives are specifically composed and arranged with the goal of creating an enhanced or different experience when reading the group as a whole as opposed to its individual parts.’ – Wikipedia
The Canterbury Tales book cover
‘A novel-in-stories is a book-length collection of short stories that are interconnected. (One of the very first examples of this genre is The Canterbury Tales; a more recent example is The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, by Melissa Bank.) A novel-in-stories overcomes two key challenges for writers: the challenge of writing a novel-length work, and the challenge of publishing a book-length work of unrelated short stories. (Few publishers are willing to publish a short-story collection from an unknown writer.) So, the novel-in-stories helps you sell a story collection like you would a novel—as long as the interconnected nature of the stories is strong and acts as a compelling hook. Another advantage to novels-in-stories is that they afford you the opportunity to publish pieces of your novel in a variety of literary magazines, which might attract the attention of an editor or agent.’ – Writer’s Digest

‘The Crystal Ballroom’ is connected by place and by a first person narrator and her friend who exchange stories about the characters they meet at the singles dances as they search for a regular dance partner.

The book will be launched by Stephen Matthews on 1 July in downtown Melbourne at Collected Works Bookshop at an afternoon of launches and book reading to celebrate Ginninderra Press’s 21 years of independent publishing.

Counting down. Can hardly wait.

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11 thoughts on “A novel-in-stories

    1. yes, i should have mentioned the novel in stories angle before. it’s just that in the past, saying ‘short stories’ has been like saying a dirty word as far as publishing is concerned. short stories don’t sell, unless you are very famous. my first book was a novella, but i don’t say that either. for the same reason. buyers in book stores don’t feel they get value for money, so book stores don’t order them 😦 anyway … it’s a tough gig this writing business, but very grateful to be published. yes, Olive Kitteridge is a brilliant novel, i agree.

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      1. I think writing a collection of short stories is hard work. It is like being in a constant state of turning inspiration into stories. It’s exhausting. At least with a novel (or novella) you only have one story to develop.

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  1. I love how short stories are finally gaining a solid and hard-won place in fiction and I’ve read a few novels based around loosely connected short stories, one such is Rachel Joyce’s ‘A Snow Garden’ which is superlative. Best of luck with your book, Libby; I love its premise and I’m sure it will do very well! 😀

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