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The Power of Mosaic Writing:  Crafting a Collection of Linked Short Stories or Essays

November 2, 2023 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Like a mosaic, a linked story or essay collection allows you (and the reader) to craft individual, stand-along stories or essays that, when examined collectively, present a larger picture or theme. These have also been called mosaic novels or mosaic memoirs. Think Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Sue William Silverman’s How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences, and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

The mosaic structure yields a lot of benefits for the reader, especially in terms of quick pacing, a feeling of connectivity, and a diverse offering of events and viewpoints. For the writer, writing in a mosaic style can truly liberate your book from a heavy, chronological structure that may be weighing it down or getting in the way of finishing your draft. You may find that you can tell the “big story” by focusing on the smaller, more specific ones.

I will offer an overview of this structure, and we will study samples as well as complete a number of generative exercises. Expect lots of technique tips, writing prompts, and rich conversations tailored to your projects. Bring a work-in-progress or just an idea, as well as your laptop and/or notebook.

Susan Muaddi Darraj is an award-winning writer of books for adults and children. She won an American Book Award, two Arab American Book Awards, and a Maryland State Arts Council Independent Artists Award. In 2018, she was named a  USA Artists Ford Fellow.

Susan Muaddi Darraj’s short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home, was named the winner of the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, judged by Jaime Manrique.   It also won the 2016 Arab American Book Award, a 2016 American Book Award, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile, was published in 2007 by University of Notre Dame Press.

For children, she has written numerous YA biographies, as well as the Farah Rocks chapter book series, the first to feature an Arab American protagonist. She is also the head writer of the Spotify Original podcast series, Arabian Nights, as well as other podcast creations for young listeners.

Susan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and teaches English and creative writing at Harford Community College and the Johns Hopkins University. Her next novel is forthcoming from HarperCollins.


November 2, 2023
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
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