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short story cycle workshop

A short story cycle, broadly defined, is a collection of interconnected fictional narratives by a single author that are linked by shared characteristics. Because of the wide variation in form, a precise definition of the genre is probably impossible. But in The Contemporary American Short Story Cycle: The Ethnic Resonance of Genre (2001), James Nagel states that “a story cycle is generally less unified than a novel, but has much greater coherence and thematic integrity than a collection of unrelated stories.” For instance, there is usually much less importance placed on a single, developed protagonist in short story cycles than in novels; while in collections of unrelated stories, there is no single protagonist.

And in her seminal work on unified story collections The Short Story Cycle: A Genre Companion and Reference Guide (1989), Susan Garland Mann lays out a series of unifying strategies that differentiate the short story cycle from the novel and the unrelated story collection forms: setting, repeated and developed characters, plot or chronological order, themes or ideas, myth, imagery, and point of view.

This workshop will explore the process of linking stories together in such a way as to make the whole of a collection greater than the sum of its parts. While there is no “required reading” per se, participants will have a richer experience if they have read at least one story cycle (for example, Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time or Andrew Geyer’s Lesser Mountains) before attending.

Saturday, November 7; 9:00-10:30 a.m. $45/person. Limited to 15 participants. This workshop will be held as an online video conference call through Zoom. Details for joining the video call will be provided to all participating writers after registering. Course materials will be provided as email attachments.

Purchase tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/writing-the-short-story-cycle-tickets-118846692657

About our instructor:

Andrew Geyer’s ninth book, the story cycle Lesser Mountains (Lamar University Press, 2019), won a 2020 Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) for U.S. South – Best Regional Fiction. His other individually authored books are Dixie Fish, a novel; Siren Songs from the Heart of Austin, a story cycle; Meeting the Dead, a novel; and Whispers in Dust and Bone, a story cycle that won the silver medal for short fiction in the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards and a Spur Award for short fiction from the Western Writers of America.

He is the co-author, with Jerry Craven and Terry Dalrymple, of the hybrid story cycle Dancing on Barbed Wire. Geyer also co-authored Parallel Hours, an alternative history/sci fi novel; and Texas 5X5, another hybrid story cycle from which one of his stories won a second Spur Award for short fiction. He co-edited the composite anthology A Shared Voice with Tom Mack. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters and the South Carolina Academy of Authors Literary Hall of Fame, Geyer currently serves as English Department Chair at the University of South Carolina Aiken and Fiction Editor for Concho River Review.

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