17.12: Structuring a Story Within a Story

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepherd, and Howard Tayler

One common structure—both macro and micro—is the “story within a story,” or “framing story” structure, and yet somehow we’ve never really explored it on Writing Excuses. Guest host Peng Shepherd is here to help us set things right.

Liner Notes: Here are some examples of story-within-a-story structure…

  • Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
  • Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
  • Neverending Story, by Michael Ende
  • One Thousand and One Nights
  • Sun the Moon and the Stars, by Stephen Brust
  • Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow

Credits: This episode was recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Take or create an artifact within your current WIP, whether it’s a letter, a diary entry, an in-world almanac or spellbook, etc., and flesh it out for a chapter. See what it adds to your worldbuilding or plot.

Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke

2 thoughts on “17.12: Structuring a Story Within a Story”

  1. This week, the builders, Dan, Mary Robinette, Peng, and Howard, tackled the story within a story, aka the framing story. There’s a lot of examples, and plenty of ideas about what you can do with a story within a story. And you can read all about it in the transcript available now in the archives!

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