Fiction *starring* fiction

There are a few works of fiction that actually star another work, often eponymously titled the same as that inner work. I don’t mean something like Lovecraft’s stories, in which the Necronomicon appears more as a prop or sidebar to the main story, nor The Maltese Falcon, in which the Black Bird (a work of art, of course) is pretty much a MacGuffin, but those where the entire plot is based on the existence and properties of the inner work.

I’ve only got three:

  • The King In Yellow (1895) by Robert W. Chambers is a collection of stories about a play that will drive you mad or otherwise curse you if you read it to the end.

  • The Singing Detective (1986) by Dennis Potter is a BBC miniseries about … Well, the protagonist wrote a pulp novel of the same title and has been working on a screenplay, and we get parts of the story through scenes from those, as well as his childhood memories, dreams and hallucinations. (Great stuff! Get this now!)

  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman is a “good parts version” of “S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure,” according to the Amazon review. Goldman frames that in a story of his father reading it to him and abridging it on the fly. (I’ve seen the movie long ago, but not read the book, which Zyada says is much darker in tone.

Can anyone suggest other works like these?

Dunno if this is quite what you’re looking for, but in Wolves of the Calla, the fifth Dark Tower novel by Stephen King, Pere Callahan relates his story of how he came to Calla Bryn Sturgis. He was the priest in King’s novel Salem’s Lot, and, at one point in Calla,

Finds a copy of Salem’s Lot, and realizes that he’s a character in a work of fiction.

In fact, during the sixth book, Song of Susannah, Eddie and Roland visit King, who’s become a character in his own book. The sixth novel ends with King being killed after being struck by a vehicle while walking - a fictional turn of a true incident and Roland and Jake (and Oy) have to prevent that outcome on the last novel, The Dark Tower.

I love all the fake movies they used in Seinfeld.

[li]Rochelle, Rochelle - A young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk[/li][li]Agent Zero[/li][li]Chunnel[/li][li]Death Blow - “When someone tries to blow you up, not because of who you are but, for different reasons all together … Death Blow!”[/li][li]Sack Lunch - Elaine really had bad taste, until the Gene picks episode anyhow.[/li][li]Cry, Cry Again - “Yeah, so you cry… and when you see the dancer, you cry again.”[/li][/ul]

Well it sort of happens everytime a book or movie ends with the protagonist saying that’s the story of how they came to write the book or make the movie. I think you mean more where the multi-level concept is carried through the work from start to finish, and* Galaxy Quest would fit in that category. You could also say that the Monty Python Funniest Joke in the World *skit qualifies as well. *The Notebook *is also in that category (a rare case where I would say a movie is not worth watching even to get laid). There are probably many books about an author writing a book. There are any number of movies that are based on the making of a fictional movie, including some porn. *Finding Bliss *is in this category (not worth watching for the porn though).

There’s also the twist on the concept of fiction within the story. Does a story about a fictional work of non-fiction count as well? That would open up numerous movies about newpaper publishing and reporting, and movies like* Broadcast News *and Network.

There’s also every picture someone took of themself in a mirror.

I’m not sure I quite follow the OP, but are you asking about something like Pale Fire? It’s an example of metafiction.

The Neverending Story would certainly qualify, and The Book of Three might. Although neither of those works is precisely “fiction”, within their respective contexts.

Another possibility is Man of La Mancha, a play about Cervantes putting on a play of Don Quixote.

The Producers.
Silent Movie.

I can’t believe you forgot “Prognosis Negative!”

In Deathtrap starring Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve and Dyan Cannon, Caine’s character plots to murder Reeve’s character to appropriate a brilliant script that he has written.

I’m sure I have seen several books with similar plots - the wrong person credited as author.


The Seven Minutes by Irving Wallace. It’s about an obscenity trial for a fictitious book called The Seven Minutes.

The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth is about the creation of the poem, The Sot-Weed Factor. The poem does exist, but a major plot point (and central McGuffin) of the book is the (mostly*) fictitious secret diary of Captain John Smith (of Virginia).

Similarly, Barth’s story “Lost in the Funhouse” is about a boy lost in a funhouse who imagines he’s in a story called “Lost in the Funhouse.” Thus the story is itself.

The Book of Kells by R. A. McEvoy is about the creation of the legendary Book of Kells.

Jumanji is about the fictitious game Jumanji.

*While the diary is fictitious, the essential element – the Secret of the Sacred Eggplant – actually did exist.

The Hours, revolves around the writing and reading of ‘Mrs Dalloway’.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is about a boy who finds a mysterious book called (hold onto your hats) The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. The boy then spends years trying to track Carax down and discovers that someone (who may be the Devil!) has been buying up all of Carax’s books and burning them.

House of Leaves

House of Leaves is a book about a book about a movie. More or less.

Edit: Beaten by one stinkin’ minute.

Possession, by A. S. Byatt, revolves around a romance between two 19th century poets, which is revealed solely through their letters, poetry and other fictional works, and diaries kept by others who knew them. (There’s a second plot involving the 20th century academics uncovering these diaries, etc.)

Ha ha, you should have left out the description, and just stuck to the title.

But, as they say, great minds think alike.

If it’s any consolation, from my timezone you made your post at:



Adaptation, kinda sorta


Was a fictional movie in Community ,but it was pretty far from having its plot be the basis of the show, or even the episode that featured it.