Many, if not most, lifestory writers begin by writing short stories about various topics. One day they discover they have an impressive pile of unrelated stories and wonder what on earth to do with them. Here’s the answer:
“Crumb cake? Stories? What’s the deal?” you may well ask. Just as there are many recipes for crumb cake, there are many recipes for weaving assorted stories into a finished anthology. Here are a few common ones:
Simple story album
In my forthcoming book, The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, I refer to finished collections of stories as albums, similar to photo albums or music albums. Photo albums generally have themes, such places and seldom have more than a few words describing date, place and names. The photos stand on their own. You can do the same thing with your stories. Just arrange them in a pleasing order and call it an album of short stories, each complete within itself.
Just as some photo albums are about specific events, trips, or what have you, you can write a collection of related stories. This collection may be relatively short, if it’s about memories of a specific person, for example. People who traveled a lot may have a thick volume of their globe-trotting adventures. Still, each story will probably be a freestanding unit.
A third option is to take the stories you’ve written and tie them together with narration between. In this case, each story may be a chapter, or you may piece several stories together for a unit. Most published memoirs use a collage of assembled shorter stories this way. Go to your local library and check out a memoir or two and read them with this possibility in mind. Notice how shorter stories are strung together.
You’ll find related thoughts on this topic in an earlier post, “Like Beads on a Necklace.”
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal