This week’s video discusses the important, but often overlooked, technique of framing, using examples from Barbara Wood’s historical novel Green City in the Sun, and shows how you can use framing to strengthen your story.
Framing is a useful, but too often overlooked, technique that gives your story a sense of cohesion and directs readers’ loyalties and attention in the story. Frames bookend a story with definitive opening scenes that introduce readers to pertinent characters, settings, and themes, and closing scenes that bring the story to a resonant full circle. We find a brilliant use of frames in Barbara Wood’s historical novel Green City in the Sun, in which she shares the story of three generations of the British Treverton family who settled in 20th-century Kenya.
Framing is particularly important in a story such as Wood’s, which spans decades and includes a huge cast of characters. She cleverly framed her historical story in a present-day setting, which opens, at the beginning of the book, with the last of the Trevertons returning to Kenya after an absence almost twenty years. She connects readers to the character, but, even more importantly, interests them in the secrets in the family’s past, which will have a huge effect on this character’s own life. In so doing, Wood sets the stage for the 600 pages of generational saga to follow. As the saga nears its close and the character from the opening chapter returns to play her own part in the story, Wood effortlessly brings her story full circle and given readers a beautiful sense of closure.
She could have chosen to tell her story in a linear fashion, jumping from year to year and character to character. But because she understood that the vast scope of her story could easily fragment into disparate pieces, she provided readers with a solid frame that kept them grounded in her story, neatly foreshadowed things to come, and left them with a tidy ending that resonated.