The Art of the Story: Connected Collections


From Edgar Allan Poe to Sandra Cisneros and Tim O’Brien, writers have been engaged in the art of writing stories that weave and interconnect. Whether through THEME as in Poe or, more recently, Dan Chaon’s Among the Missing or Joan Silber’s Ideas of Heaven, through PLACE as in James Joyce’s Dubliners or Sandra Cisernos’ House on Mango Street, or through CHARACTERS as in The Things They Carried (O’Brien) or Monkeys (Susan Minot), or finally through an INCIDENT that links them (Haruki Murakami’s After the Quake, Russell Banks’ The Sweet Hereafter, or Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey, writers have found ways to link their stories. This workshop will focus on the writing of stories that are connected in one of these various ways. We will read from connected collections. Exercises will be created in order to help students mine their own material in order to create small collections of narratives with similar preoccupations, terrains, or people. Each student will produce his/her own collection of three-to-five linked stories during the semester. This is not a class in how to write a story, per se, but rather in how to link them. Though not required, it is best if a student has previously worked in the genre.