A mosaic novel, you say? What’s that when it’s at home? How’s it differ from a common or garden novel? Well, my favourite explanation is from the inimitable Jo Walton: “A normal novel tells a story by going straightforwardly at it, maybe with different points of view, maybe braided, but clearly going down one road of story. A mosaic novel builds up a picture of a world and a story obliquely, so that the whole is more than the sum of the parts.”
According to author Joe McDermott, the creation of a mosaic novel is based on a technique of fracturing one or more story elements: plot, theme, characters, and/or setting. One of these elements, however, should be kept intact to bind the various story threads together and keep the reader anchored in the tale as a whole. Each mosaic text tends to fracture differently, depending on the author’s preferences and the needs of the story. In a true mosaic the plot is always going to be fractured, with no central plotline and each story-tile following its own narrative thread that doesn’t lead to an ending that feeds in to a larger overarching story question. The links between the stories are found in recurring characters and settings, repeated story talismans, themes and motifs, and acts the consequences of which echo through subsequent tales in the mosaic.