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Monday, 30 November 2015

Stories within stories within stories


Perhaps one of the oldest story forms is the story within a story. It's one that always appeals to both writers and reads for many reasons.  It's a way to set a scene, or build a certain tension. In its simplest form, it is a way to have an introduction and a conclusion surrounding a tale. Adding a layer to the story and allowing the writer to trail his story to a degree.
To use an example from a classic author , in the Time Machine +H.G. Wells  introduces his story with a dinner party hosted by the protagonist who turns up in an odd state. The start and end of the novel are told by one of the guests at the dinner party. While the middle it told as a tale told by the protagonist.
It's a simple form, but one that allows complexity to be built on to it.
In the wind through the keyhole , the last (or latest) dark tower novel to be written by +Stephen King  ( though not chronologically) king tells a story wrapped around a tale told by Roland to his K'tet.  But in Rolands story, there is a third story wrapped inside. A story told to Roland in the middle of the story he is telling. A story within a story , within a story.
King is if course something of a master teller of tales. And like all good stories within stories  each layer is both relevant to the layers above it and influences the greater tale.
My forthcoming novel 'Location relative' : Esqeiths piano bar and grill. Which I have mentioned on occasion, is one which uses the stories within stories as a structure. The structure is closer to the likes of Worlds End by Neil Gaiman, the seventh of the sandman graphic novels. In which travelers swap stories in a magical tavern on the edge of reality.
While the central tale is of the experiences of a man called Richard within a strange shifting reality of the passing place, it is also built around other tales told by those who inhabit the passing place and those who pass through its doors.
As I built the novel, and built is the right word in many ways, as it is composed of tales which form the bricks around which Richards tale is the mortar, I made a point of making the stories all relevant in one way or another to the main tale. Though while some may have obvious connections or lessons for the main protagonist to learn from others are more oblique in nature, telling the reader something about the characters within the passing place and their relationships with one another.
It's taken almost five years in total to string this all together, I started this novel before cider lane which took over from it as a point of focus for a long while.
Authors are story tellers. This is true no matter what the genre, or if the book is a novel or none fiction. Stories remain the stock in trade. Readers take from the stories different things from the writers intention sometimes. Often in fact. The passing place is a novel about stories and full of stories, some only a few paragraphs or less within a larger tale, itself within a greater tale.
Location relative is the first of three planned novels based in the passing place. Together they will form a greater tale of which those are just parts, stories , within stories with stories.

When it's finished I hope may enjoy them all.