“Story within a story” is a fun framing device for writing your novel in a unique way. The idea behind this structure is that the narrator is actually a character. We get to see what is happening in their life as well as what’s happening in the tale they’re telling.
This structure is anything but new. One of the oldest uses is in the 12th century tale One Thousand and One Nights. The main character, Scheherazade, begins to tell her husband, the king, a new tale every night. She stops before finishing the tale with the promise to continue the next night, which keeps him from beheading her in the morning. The story is of Scheherazade, while the stories within are tales such as Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp.
We also see modern uses of this structure in shows like The Simpsons with their Treehouse of Horror episodes, The Princess Bride, and even in The Emperor’s New Groove.
This structure doesn’t always have to be a framework for the entire plot. Sometimes it’s a simple as a single scene, like Shakespeare’s famous use of a play within a play.
There are things to consider, though, before jumping into this structure. We discuss how to and how not to use a “story within a story” structure in this episode.
First aired August 23, 2021.
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