I recently read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and I noticed that so many of these fantastical stories from the 19th Century are frame stories. I love the idea that the author didn’t make up these stories, but received a manuscript and was just passing it along (Connecticut Yankee), or it happened to their uncle (A Princess of Mars (admittedly not 19th Century)), or they are a reporter just passing on the story of another person (The Time Machine).
Each one of them has some telling detail that convinced the author that the “person” they received the “true story” from was not lying. It could be a bit of technology, or something they noticed, or a fact that they otherwise couldn’t have known.
Any, my simple observation is that any story could, in theory, be given the movie tag line “Based on a True Story” or even “A True Story”.
It works like this:
1. Begin each story with someone sitting down to write or read a story.
2. Then tell the story that they wrote or read.
3. End with a scene showing the person finishing the story.
That’s it! The “Based on a true story” claim is only about the frame story of someone sitting down to either read or write the story within the story. As long as that frame character makes no claims to the verifiable truth of the framed story, you’re good to go.
Of course, they can claim they believe the framed story, but that just means that at some point the reader/writer must claim that, and so it is true, and you’re still good to go.
I might write a script that adds a scene of someone sitting down to read an ebook to the beginning of every novel in public domain, and then publish them all here on my blog.
“”The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells” by Luke Burrage – A True Story!”
Again, maybe this idea should just stay in my head.
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