How to Strengthen Your Story with Proper Framing

How to Strengthen Your Story With Proper Framing

How to Strengthen Your Story with Proper FramingFraming is a useful, but too often overlooked, technique that gives your story a sense of cohesion and directs readers’ loyalties and attention.

What Is Framing?

Frames bookend a story with a definitive opening scene (that introduces readers to pertinent characters, settings, and themes) and a closing scene (that brings the story to a resonant full circle by mirroring or returning to the opening scene).

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.

How to Create an Opening Frame

She cleverly framed her historical story in a present-day setting, which opens with the last of the Trevertons returning to Kenya after an absence of almost twenty years.

She uses this opening frame to connect readers to the character, but, even more importantly, to interest them in the secrets in the family’s past, which will have a huge effect on this character’s life. In so doing, Wood sets the stage for the 600 pages of generational saga to follow.

How to Create a Closing Frame

When the saga nears its close and the character from the opening chapter finally comes back on stage to play her own part in the story, Wood is able to effortlessly bring the story full circle and give 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, neatly foreshadowed things to come, and left them with a tidy ending that resonated.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Have you ever used a framing technique in any of your stories? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. wow, 600 pages… I’m so impressed by her. I like this idea of framing. Will keep this in mind going forward–Thanks, Katie! :o)

  2. Framing is so important – and not just in long stories. The sense of wholeness and continuity we grant a story by appropriately framing it is invaluable.

  3. I like the vlog but appreciate the text as well. Have you found the vlog format to be well received?

  4. Yes, I’ve been very pleased with the vlog’s reception. People seem to really enjoy it. I just thought I’d add text for those (like myself) who prefer it.

  5. Thank you SOOO much for the text. Videos take too long to load on my computer.

  6. You’re welcome! Sorry I didn’t get around to including the transcriptions sooner.

  7. I’m a Kenyan and this sounds like a fascinating novel! I am also a writer so I thank you for this very helpful tip!

  8. It’s a little soapy, but it introduces some interesting in history in what I felt was a comparatively objective approach.

  9. Hannah Killian says

    Something I thought of when watching the ending of Beauty and the Beast on YouTube: It uses framing with the stained glass window.

  10. It was an interesting article to read, but what is the difference between framing and outlining? Outlining a novel will result in a framed novel, or am I missing something?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Framing is a technique in which the opening and closing chapters are designed to mirror each other. It can be designed while outlining, but has nothing to do with outlining in itself. Outlining is the art of brainstorming and planning the entire story. More on that here: How to Outline Your Novel.


  1. […] the right POV (including, Whose story is this?, Which character has the most at stake?, and What is your narrative frame?), narrative voice should always be one of them. If I had chosen to tell Storming from the POV of my […]

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