Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Literary Techniques: The Framed Story

If you have a moment, Deb Salisbury is discussing her Writing Goals for 2011 for the Sisterhood blog. Have a look see!

As for today's post, I got the idea for this post from Patti Lacy's blog. Her new book, The Rhythm of Secrets (now available on Amazon! Woot!) is a framed story.

What's that, you ask?

*cracks knuckles*

A framed story is a technique of introducing a story within the framework of another original story. It can get more complicated, with multiple short stories introduced, or a telescoping story within a story within a story.

Cool, huh?

Framed stories go way back to ancient times and were seen in Sanskrit epics.

Some well known framed stories include:

One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights)
Canterbury Tales
Wuthering Heights
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

I repeat...cool huh? Ever thought of writing a framed story? Know of another one that I should put on this list?

50 comments:

Angela Felsted said...

I guess the movie "Princess Bride" is kind of like a framed story, except it's a movie.

jbchicoine said...

The novel I'm working on, STOTRY FOR A SHIPWRIGHT, is a framed story--a story within a story version. I guess you'll have to wait till it's published before you can add it to your list :)

Jen Daiker said...

How fascinating!!! I love it!! I'm going to go check out Patti's book so I can add it to my list!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My next YA book is a framed story. The first chapter takes place down the line, then the second chapter starts back in time to guide you to where the first chapter came from before continuing with the story. Chapter one introduces the story problem, which otherwise wouldn't show up until about half way into the book.

This isn't to be confused with the device that was used in Twilight, though. The prologue (or whatever it was called) was used to demonstrate that it had a gripping climax and to cover for a not-so- exciting chapter one. ;)

Anne Gallagher said...

I guess if I read the definition correctly, my latest out to query is a framed story. Wow, who knew I could do something like that and I didn't even know what I was doing.

Laura Pauling said...

If done well, I love that concept and really enjoy movies or books set up like that. I love Catch Me if you Can with Leo DiCaprio. One of my favorites1

Old Kitty said...

Heart of Darkness?

I love this literary device! I'd never dare use it so yay for Patti Lacy!!!

Take care
x

lbdiamond said...

It's like the dream within a dream sequence, LOL!

Nice post! :D

storyqueen said...

For a middle grade book, WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON by Grace Lin is a framed story.

(So is the book I am working on right now, out in 2012...The Seven Tales of Trinket!)

Shelley

mist of the blossom rain said...

I have never heard of this type of writing before--very cool!

Paul S said...

First it was False Documents and now Framed Stories, I learn something new every time I visit your blog Lydia :)

Jess said...

I love framed stories--they give me a feeling that I'm sitting by the fire and the narrator is telling me a story (especially Wuthering Heights--you need to imagine sitting by a fire when you read that book...cold, rainy moors...icky/brrrr).

Carol Kilgore said...

I enjoy reading framed stories. Of course I'm drawing a blank on any other titles :)

salarsenッ said...

I haven't thought of this. Thanks for bringing it up. Must ponder.

Wuthering Heights - love!!

Munk said...

"The Usual Suspects" (sort of).

Meredith said...

One of my WiPs that I haven't worked on in over a year is a framed story--it's a fun but sometimes complicated thing to write!

JEM said...

The Princess Bride is also a book, so it is a framed story!

I've never read Wuthering Heights, but I had no idea it was a framed story. I will still never read it (most likely), but now I have more ammunition to pretend like I have :).

Kelly said...

I guess I am aware of the concept, but didn't know the term "framed story." Oh, the things I learn on your blog! :)

Jonene Ficklin said...

A few years ago, my son begged me to read "Holes", but I dragged my feet. Then the movie came out and I was really intrigued with how they framed two comletely different stories, then brought them together at the end. I thought it was brilliant and went right home and tried it out. It was so fun! Now, I love reading framed stories! Great blog!

Emy Shin said...

If done well, this technique can be so powerful and memorable. The one framed story that's in my head is Shakespeare's TAMING OF THE SHREW -- which is rather a play within a play. :)

Taryn Tyler said...

My short story "Hellebore" is sort of a framed story. It's a fun format because you can connect the two seperate story lines with themes and other fancy things. :)

wheresmypencil said...

Another famous author who used this technique was William Shakespeare in TAMING OF THE SHREW; although he never finished the story he used to frame the story of the Shrew. Some people have guessed he never intended to complete that story, while others believe he decided not to after finishing the story about the Shrew b/c it was strong enough to stand on its own. Still, others would argue the piece, as a whole, was never actually completed.

wheresmypencil said...

Another famous author who used this technique was William Shakespeare in TAMING OF THE SHREW; although he never finished the story he used to frame the story of the Shrew. Some people have guessed he never intended to complete that story, while others believe he decided not to after finishing the story about the Shrew b/c it was strong enough to stand on its own. Still, others would argue the piece, as a whole, was never actually completed.

Krispy said...

I haven't tried the technique myself, but it is an appealing idea. Cool!

Talli Roland said...

I have enough trouble with un-framed stories! :) I can see myself getting turned around... and around... and around...

Interesting concept, though.

Heather said...

Wow, I never even knew what they were! That is cool! With the mentions I completely get what you mean. I'd love to try writing one some day!

Krista said...

Framed stories are a fantastic medium with so much potential and surprisingly little representation. You should get on that Lydia!

Carol Riggs said...

Hey, what a complex yet cool idea! There are probably many variations and varying complexities of it, too. Happy Wednesday to ya!

Christopher said...

Sounds like a challenge, I need to give it a try sometime.

Terri Tiffany said...

Now I'm curious. I have never heard of this term before. ANd I want to read Patti's latest book!

LTM said...

JRM loves these. I'm pretty sure those Quicksilver (Neal Stephenson) books are frame stories. I haven't read them. nerds~ ;p <3

Kenda said...

Interesting concept--I'm going to have to get more familiar with it! Thanks for bringing the subject up :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Princess Bride is a great example! So's Edward Scissorhands.

DL Hammons said...

Actually, my first book (the one currently on the shelf collecting dust) utilized a bit of this technique. Ironically, it was a sequence of blog post that told a story. :)

Colene Murphy said...

I never knew that is what they were called. Canterbury Tales was my favorite high school read!

Alleged Author said...

That's why I love your blog--you teach me new stuff every week! :)

Ciara said...

I've never heard of this. I'm so excited to find another new, interesting book. :)

Melissa said...

Actually, I think a framed story would be really fun to write. It's something to think about....

Olga said...

The Book of One Thousand and One Nights!

Lenny Lee* said...

hi miss lydia! wow more cool stuff for me to learn. i didnt ever hear of it but now i know what it is and for sure i read books and saw movies thats got it.
...hugs from lenny

Madeleine said...

Gosh I'd never heard that term before, interesting :O)

Ishta Mercurio said...

I have thought about writing one, but I don't have any good ideas for one; just the idea that i want to do one at some point.

THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST is a framed story, I think, if the way it starts is any hint. You should check it out. The first two chapters are awesome, but I already had so many books on the go I had to put it on top of my TBR pile.

Carolyn Abiad said...

The Book Thief. Top of mind because I read it recently...It's narrated by Death, with stories of a girl in Nazi Germany. It's a good read, if you haven't picked it up already.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Huh, I guess my newest ms fits that "framework" *groans at own bad joke*

Beth said...

Framed stories aren't common, and I think that's what makes them fun. I'll check out the Rhythm of Secrets -- sounds interesting!

L'Aussie said...

Framed stories. Never heard that term used before but by your explanation i can see Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein fitting that mould. So interesting. It would be good to try it.

If any of your readers here missed N R Williams' blog tour because of the time difference (I posted late) it is now up:

The Treasures of Carmelidrium blog tour

Thanks Lydia.

Denise :)

Paul C said...

I like how James Hilton's Lost Horizon and the tale of Shangri La was framed by a skillful Prologue and Epilogue.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Lydia. It's been awhile since I've been here. Thanks for your comment on L'Aussie's Flashquake blog about my post. I appreciate it.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Roland D. Yeomans said...

The League of Five, my junior high reading club, was given birth by a framed novel : BEAU GESTE. So framed stories have always been near and dear to my heart, Roland

Michelle said...

hello!

Great post - I like

 
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