Follow TV Tropes


Direct Line to the Author

Go To

Sometimes, "this is a true story" is part of the fiction.

Once in a while a really well-written story can feel so real that you begin to wonder if it might just be based on a true story. Occasionally, this is actually the case — or at least supposedly so — but there are times when an author (etc.) will go out of their way to create greater immersion in their work by claiming that their very obviously fictional and fantastic world is in some way real. Usually they claim that they didn't come up with the story; rather, it was 'recounted' to them by the actual main characters (or some other witness), often physically, but sometimes by phone or magic.

Another common method is to claim that a book was written as a testimony (or confession) to actual events. In this version the author pretends they are simply publishing something that someone else has written. They may claim that they merely found the account in the form of a diary or a set of notebooks and novelised it.note  Or, if it is a film, that it comprises found footage or a mixture of found footage and Dramatisation. Other methods include accounts by secondary characters and so on. This trope, a staple of children's books and fantastic tales, often features an Author Avatar or even instances of From Beyond the Fourth Wall or other strangeness, and may be said to be translated from accounts of what 'happened' or works 'written' by the characters though never actually communicated in person.

In all these cases, however, it is considered canon that the author is repeating a story that is in fact true, if only to a certain degree. One of the people the story is about may, even, be the author themself.

Compare …And That Little Girl Was Me, and Based on a Great Big Lie.

Absolutely not to be confused with Literary Agent Hypothesis (key word: hypothesis), where fans may imagine the story could be actually real, or like to contend that it is, but don't have any support from canon or Word of God. Also not to be confused with A True Story in My Universe, for In-Universe examples. Often ties in with Author Avatar and may involve an admitted Unreliable Narrator.

Note: This trope only applies to canon and Word of God examples in fictional works. In-Universe examples go in A True Story in My Universe. Pure Fanon examples go in Literary Agent Hypothesis.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • An Omake for Cardcaptor Sakura suggested that the entire series had been filmed and edited by Tomoyo, and included her attempt to film and record the opening song.
  • Children of the Whales: The author Abi Umeda claims that she bought old manuscripts with a strange language on the cheap from a book vendor. Her manga is the translation of protagonist Chakuro's memoir, which would be quite a feat as the manga implies that the setting is some time in our future on this Earth before the coming of Nous.
  • Queen's Blade, depending on the adaptation:
    • In the original gamebook adaptation, it's heavily implied the whole saga is told from the point of view of Hans, who in Real Life is the collective Word of God for Hobby Japan, the creators of the franchise.
    • In the animated adaptation, the Head Archangel, who is Nanael and Hachiel's boss, took his place instead.
    • In Queen's Blade Grimoire, the newest continuity of the franchise, the whole plot is told from the POV of a grandmother who tells the story to her granddaughter. This is justified in-universe, since the whole continuity is based on many classic fairy tales, and the whole story is told like one.
  • The bonus chapter in Witch Hat Atelier's fourth volume implies that this tale was originally documented by Coco's pet brushbuddy.
    Brushbuddy: As for the title, I think I shall call it...
    Coco: Ack! My hat! My witch hat!
  • YuYu Hakusho doesn't reveal this until the second to last episode: The narrator is George Saotome, the ogre always assisting Koenma, and with the new situation between the human and demon worlds, Koenma orders all of their video files to be documented. This explains the subtitles and narrations on ki attacks, and is foreshadowed by George and the narrator having the same voice actor. However, this is anime-only, as George doesn't exist in the manga.

    Comic Books 
  • The Mighty Tharg of 2000 AD is an alien on a quest to strengthen humanity by exposure to 'Thrill-power', which he does by publishing the titular comic.
  • After fifty-six years and thirty-six books, Asterix and the Missing Scroll reveals that Asterix's adventures were written down by Caesar in a lost chapter of his Commentaries on the Gallic War, and passed down in Druidic oral traditions all the way down to Uderzo and Goscinny.
  • Kurt Busiek notes that he sees the world of Astro City as being a Shared Universe owned by a company called Astro Comics, which has a similar history to Marvel and DC—the stories we see in its world, the vast majority of which are one-shots, are just snippets of its greater output. For instance, a good number of are Fad Supers to some degree, reflecting the tendency of those companies to jump on cultural trends or the latest popular film or TV show. He claims that when creating a new character, he likes to ask what that character's first appearance was like and how long their series (if they had one) ran for.
  • Jack Chick swore up and down that his stories were true, but whether he meant that so as to ensure his message would be taken to heart will never be answered.
  • This concept was firmly woven into the foundation of the Alternate Universe-laden pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths version of The DCU. At least one hero took his name from a "fictional" predecessor who (as it turned out) lived in a parallel universe, and there was a world known as "Earth-Prime" which was an almost-exact replica of the "real" world (until just before the Crisis, when it got its own version of Superboy).
    • In fact, writer Gardner Fox wrote stories in which the superheroes from other Earths would narrate their adventures to him and editor Julius Schwartz and sometimes ask for their help.
    • Fox fan Grant Morrison paid a somewhat darker homage to these stories when he wrote himself into Animal Man.
    • Following 52, Earth-Prime was brought back as part of the multiverse as Earth-33. The Multiversity Guidebook (written by Grant Morrison) notes, in its Earth-33 write-up, that "Monitor conjecture suggests that ideas created by ordinary human minds on Earth-Prime become realities on other worlds of the Multiversal Orrery structure." Or, to put it another way, when the writers imagine new worlds in the DC multiverse, those worlds become real.
    • The role-playing game supplement for the Legion of Super-Heroes explains the Zeerust technology of early Legion stories by explaining that of course the early Legion had Omnicoms and flight-rings, they just couldn't show them in 1960s comics because they were so far beyond the readers' tech-level.
  • According to the introduction, Bill Willingham didn't write Ironwood; he cheated Dragavon out of his story rights on Earth. The final scene of the series also adds a dose of Unreliable Narrator.
  • Steve Gerber revealed in the last issue of Man-Thing that he was just retelling stories told to him by Dakimh the Enchanter.
  • It's long been tradition at Marvel Comics that they weren't making stories up, just reporting what really happened. (To the point that they once showed a writer and artist very concerned they hadn't heard from their characters they "covered", and were debating what to do for the next issue. They reacted with absolute horror at the suggestion they just "make something up".) However, this was directly averted in a letter column after the Death of Phoenix in X-Men, when the editor wrote about the many touching letters they received about how much the story meant to some of the fans. Some people even sent flowers. And then, they started getting death threats over the story. To which the editor said, "I know we joke we're just reporting what really happened, but it's just a comic book. It is brightly colored ink on cheap paper that will decay to dust in two hundred years. It is not worth threatening anyone's life."
    • Peter David once related a story about how, at a convention, he was sitting at an autograph table and a boy and his mother walked by. "That's Peter David! He works in the comics", the kid says. His mother turns to David and asks, "You draw the comics?" "Actually, I'm a writer." She looks confused. "So what do you do in comics?", she asks. Before David can respond, the boy pipes up: "Oh, he writes down everything Spider-Man says and puts it in the comics." note 
  • Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist is a collection of stories pastiching various comic trends, based on the fictional comics described in his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. According to Chabon's introduction, however, it's a collection of long-forgotten vintage comic books that he assembled while researching the very true story of Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay and the entirely real comics they created.
  • Alan Moore claims to have met John Constantine of Swamp Thing and Hellblazer fame in real life, more than once. We must consider three very distinct possibilities. Either he met Sting (on whose appearance Constantine is based) in a trenchcoat, Alan Moore is out of his fucking mind, or he believes so much in certain things that they become real and his sanity forces him to forget lest he obliterate himself.
  • The Multiversity posits that comic books are actually windows into alternate realities, letting you see the multiverse in A Form You Are Comfortable With. The horrifying implications of this are thoroughly explored; most notably, a group of Lovecraftian horrors called the Gentry are trying to use it to invade and destroy universes, including ours.
  • Starlord had the Starlord, who had arrived on Earth to warn humanity about the evil Interstellar Federation. The comic was supposedly a stealth training manual so that humanity would be able to defend itself when they arrived. In the last issue before Starlord merged with 2000 AD, the Starlord said that humans had absorbed enough knowledge to scare off the Federation, and so he was going to depart Earth and leave his readers in the capable hands of Tharg.
  • Tornado was supposedly edited by one of its characters, a superhero named The Big E, who was trained by Tharg as a super-editor.

    Fan Works 
  • In Ask Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the classic Eon-produced James Bond films are said to be this, and they are extremely close to the real events. The Daniel Craig reboot, on the other hand, is the result of the producers being forced to make stuff up now that the real James Bond has retired and that Blofeld is in jail.
  • Book Of Days is presented as Clover the Clever's personal diary detailing the events of Princess Celestia's birth and childhood, as translated into modern language by Twilight Sparkle, who provides commentary at the end of each chapter.
  • A Brief History of Equestria is presented as a non-fiction history book written by Twilight Sparkle along with historians and scholars from the Equestrian Royal Ministry of Education and the Royal Historical Society.
  • Episode I: The real story?: This story (originally in Russian) is about how the Star Wars films are actually made for show distortions of real events, and it's very risky to use them as actual sources. Then it shows (as much as possible; sources are sketchy) what the events of "Episode I" really looked like before Hollywood Tropes were applied. For starters, Naboo was too remote a planet for taxing disputes — the dispute was actually over properly dividing the profits from a local animal's venom, apparently a drug for Hutts. A few things (like Obi-Wan defeating Maul) do look a bit more plausible than in the movie.
  • According to Pokéumans, anyone (including you) could be a clone replacement of the person a transformed Pokeuman used to be. If the characters want their story known, albeit in the guise of fiction, they supposedly send the ideas to the clone by psychic messaging so that even they think it's fictional. But there's no way of proving it isn't.
  • In A Thing of Vikings, each chapter begins with a passage from a (fictional) historical text that places the events of the story in a historical context, showing a world where history is changed after Hiccup Haddock and Toothless destroyed the Green Death and brought about peace between humans and dragons.
  • This fanfic suggests J. R. R. Tolkien actually met Maglor; it implies that this is where he learns about Middle Earth...
  • Varric Tethras is credited as the editor of the Twice Upon an Age series, helping "Lady Norbert, Chantry scholar" take the official records about the Second Inquisition and turn them into a story. He peppers the manuscripts with editor's notes to comment on the action, criticize the author's choice of phrase, or explain things to the readers. He's also credited as the author in two of the side volumes of the series, and has even (with 'help' from Mary Kirby) autographed "Scholar"'s real-life copy of Hard in Hightown.
  • In the same way as Philip José Farmer claimed to have interviewed the actual John Clayton, Earl of Greystoke for Tarzan Alive, many of those contining the concept of the Wold-Newton Universe explain that they have some kind of contact in the world of heroic-adventurers-who-everyone-wrongly-thinks-are-fictional. Jess Nevins's "M.N." complains about him giving the articles humorous titles, Dennis Powers's "David Vincent" comes across as a paranoid conspiracy theorist, and Al Schroeder claimed to have begun his Supermania series (no longer online) after being rescued by the man himself.
  • The short stories in You Got SasakiRolled! are allegedly written by three characters from the original series. In a twist, the "literary agent" (that is, the author) is killed off at the very beginning and the story was supposedly uploaded to FanFiction.Net by his ghost.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Although The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension itself doesn't make a point of it, supporting materials claim that Buckaroo Banzai is a real person, whose adventures were related to author Earl Mac Rauch and then adapted into the movie. The DVD commentary runs with this premise, further claiming that some details have been withheld or altered for security reasons. It also imagines that merchandise related to the movie is in fact inspired by the hero himself, in an example of Recursive Canon.
  • Black Dynamite: This film assumes it is a real Blaxploitation movie from the The '70s, complete with the actors being given backstories for the fictional actors they're representing. It's surprisingly convincing, with Roger Ebert noting that some viewers could fairly easily be fooled into thinking the movie is for real.
  • The Blair Witch Project billed itself as a documentary that included found footage. According to the movie poster:
    In October of 1994 three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary... A year later their footage was found.
  • Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 has a title card that explains that a group really did go on a killing spree after watching the first Blair Witch, and the first Blair Witch is treated as fiction. "Book of Shadows" is a dramatization of these events, and "Shadow of the Blair Witch" is the documentary of these events.
  • Fargo: Opens with a quote that reads "This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred." This is, for the most part, completely untrue. The Coen Brothers did take inspirations from various True Crime stories in the writing of the script (a body being disposed of in a wood chipper, a man hiring hitmen to kill his wife) but the events, plot, characters, and settings were all completely fictional. Joel Coen went on to say "The story was completely made up. Or, as we like to say, the only thing true about it is that it's a story".
  • The Fourth Kind: In that same vein, the film was billed as a dramatization of very real events, and containing alleged footage from the supposed incident. There were two different actors playing the same role, with one purported to be the real person in staged interviews/found footage, etc. It was quickly discovered that this was merely a marketing ploy, and that the film was as factual as The Blair Witch Project.
  • Godzilla (2014): Gareth Edwards and the design team kept this trope in mind when designing Godzilla:
    Edwards: The way I tried to view it was to imagine Godzilla was a real creature and someone from Toho saw him in the 1950s and ran back to the studio to make a movie about the creature and was trying their best to remember it and draw it. And in our film you get to see him for real.
  • In Incident At Loch Ness, the filmmakers claim to be shooting a documentary about the myth of the Loch Ness monster, but begin to encounter signs that it may not be a myth. Like Crichton's Eaters of the Dead, it is (or seems to be) a genuine documentary at the beginning of the film; where it crosses into fiction is debatable. The conceit of a genuine documentary is held on to the bitter end (the DVD even includes "commentary" by Zak Penn as he interviews a series of people and discusses the bad blood between himself and Herzog due to events in the film).
  • Jake Speed: This film has a premise where pulp novel heroes like Mack Bolan, Remo Williams, Doc Savage, and the eponymous Jake Speed are all real; it's the authors that are fictional. (They use the proceeds from the novels to fund their adventures.) The hero even has a ghostwriter for a sidekick.
  • John Carter has the title character being the uncle of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who takes his journals on Carter's funeral (though John only seemed to be dead, and through Burroughs' intervention "revived" and managed a way to return to Mars) and clearly was inspired to write something based on them.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Peter Jackson invoked this for the production team, saying something along the lines of "I don't want you to think of this as a fantasy movie. I want you to imagine it's a historical war movie, and we've been lucky enough to be able to shoot in the actual locations where these events took place." He repeated in interviews that he wanted this to be an epic film based on actual events in prehistoric England and Europe. However, the finished films lack the Found Footage style elements usually present in films that try to invoke this trope with respect to the audience. (Using/showing the Red Book of Westmarch a bit more — he does show it several times — might have qualified, since it was Tolkien's "found footage" from which he was supposedly translating the story.)
  • The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra: This film doesn't claim that the events really happened, but rather does everything in its power to make you think it's an actual '50s B-Movie that's been rediscovered. Even the real-life film crew operated under this while they were making the movie; the actors were playing bad actors playing their characters, not the characters themselves.
  • The Man Who Would be King: The Framing Device of the movie has Peachy tell the story to Rudyard Kipling, who then presumably later writes the book of the same name. In the original book, the story is told to an unnamed reporter who is very clearly Kipling's Author Avatar, meaning the movie just made it explicit.
  • The Princess Diaries is a rather unusual variation, as this film adaptation exists in the world of the book series. Mia claims to have liked the film, but notes that it's a somewhat whitewashed and idealized version of events. With much prettier people. Of course, given that Mia is in the midst of some hardcore teen angst at the time, it's entirely possible that the film is more true to her life than she realizes.
  • This is Spın̈al Tap combines this with Defictionalization, with the cast doing interviews, DVD commentaries, and concert tours in character, and then denying it when speaking as themselves.
    "Yes, Derek Smalls is a personal friend of mine. Yes, I've been known to pay his cartage fees. Yes, St. Hubbins has bummed stuff off me. So what?" - Harry Shearer
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004): Lemony Snicket insists that this is a true story that he has extensively researched in an attempt to make the story of the orphans available to the general public.
  • Early drafts of the script of Star Wars describe it as having come from records called the "Journal Of The Whills." Given how much George Lucas has muddied the waters, though, it's hard to know what he intended in 1977.
    • George Lucas later said that the entire Star Wars saga is being told by R2-D2 (which probably is why he's always saving the day).
    • According to Chris Cerasi, the six films, and the films alone, are the only installments that should be taken at face value. All of the Expanded Universe works are really considered "retellings" of events that happened.
  • Year Of The Devil: This Czech movie (Rok dábla) is purportedly a documentary about a group of well-known Czech musicians, all of whom appear in the movie as themselves. However, as the movie progresses, it starts to get more and more surreal, until it becomes obvious that a lot (if not all) of it is actually made up. So Year of the Devil is essentially a cinematic piece of fiction disguised as a documentary with real people playing fictionalized versions of themselves.


Authors with multiple examples:

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • The mystery novel Murder At The ABA takes the form of Asimov's dramatization of events as related to him by fictional character Darius Just (who bears a noticeable resemblance to real-world author Harlan Ellison). Asimov includes himself as a minor character in the story, and the book includes occasional footnote comments by Just and responses by Asimov.
    • Asimov also uses the device in the short story "Pâté de Foie Gras". The titular goose literally lays gold-filled eggs, and a group of government experts is trying to figure out where the gold is coming from (or at least figure out how to breed additional gold-egg-laying geese so that some can be spared for dissection). The story ends with one of the experts convincing the others to get the account published in an SF magazine as fiction, thus putting it before a large number of people who might come up with useful ideas while still maintaining plausible deniability.
  • L. Frank Baum styled himself the "Royal Historian of Oz", claiming that all the stories came from Dorothy telling them to him (eventually through a magic wireless after Dorothy moved to Oz permanently). He also made an attempt to use this trope to end the Oz series at one point, claiming a spell of Glinda's to detach Oz completely from the outside world meant he was no longer in contact with Dorothy. It didn't stick any better than sending Sherlock Holmes over Reichenbach Falls, of course.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs:
    • Burroughs presents himself as the great-nephew and literary executor of John Carter of Mars in the Barsoom novels. At the beginning of each book it tells how Carter visited Burroughs and gave him this story (and then disappeared again). In The Master Mind of Mars, we are told that Ulysses Paxton has read the earlier works and so recognizes Barsoom when he reaches it.
      • The film makes it more blatant by having Burroughs rush to his uncle's tomb and, upon opening it, discover it empty. A Thern appears behind him about to kill Burroughs and Carter only to be shot by Carter who shows up behind the Thern. Carter tells Burroughs to write a book, locks himself in the tomb and once again projects to Barsoom using the Thern's talisman.
    • Burroughs's first Tarzan novel, similarly, begins with an explicit statement that Burroughs was told the story by one who was there, and that the names have been changed to protect the etc. When the Tarzan series took off, this aspect of the story proved impossible to keep up, and was quietly dropped (except in Tarzan At the Earth's Core); however, fans still make use of it when discussing what Tarzan's life was "really" like. This was paid homage to in the series based on the Disney animated adaptation, where he writes the book after meeting Tarzan.
    • Burroughs did the same thing for his Amtor novels, where he is visited psychically by the protagonist, Carson Napier of Venus (who oddly enough, rarely uses his psychic powers for anything other than giving Burroughs infodumps).
    • Burroughs did this yet again for his Pellucidar novels. In the first one he meets the series' hero David Innes during a safari in the Sahara desert, after Innes has come up from Pellucidar. In the second one he receives a telegraph message from a line Innes laid all the way to the the Earth's core. Book 3 says that his recently acquired next door neighbor is an inventor who had developed a neutrino radio, which they discover can send and receive signals through solid rock to communicate with Pellucidar; at the end, having learned that David Innes was in trouble, the inventor neighbor vows to go on an expedition to rescue him, an expedition that takes place in the crossover novel Tarzan At the Earth's Core — where the neighbor sets out on his expedition. In the process, he meets Tarzan in the flesh, and Tarzan joins him on said expedition. Afterward, the inventor's radio continues to play a role in receiving the stories of Pellucidar in the three books that follow, and in some of the Barsoom novels.
    • Even his novels set in the future do this: The Moon Maid (1923) opens with an introduction in which Burroughs is told the events of the distant future by a man who can remember the lives of his future reincarnations ... although for some reason this is dated to the near future of 1967, rather than the present.
  • Bruce Coville does this in two of his series:
    • Camp Haunted Hills: At the start of book 1, Stuart tells the readers that they should be familiar with Camp Haunted Hills, because the movie was such a hit... but it was mostly Hollywood baloney, and this is the real version. The end of book 2 mentions that the reader is likely to see a movie based on the events of the book sometime in the next few years, and book 3 mentions that after the events of the story, Harry Housen rewrote his script for the movie "Day of the Dinosaur", but the reader should have already known that because they'll have seen the movie by that point.
    • Rod Allbright Alien Adventures: The fourth and final volume begins with an author's note stating that Rod is the real writer and Coville just publishes the manuscripts that Rod sends him occasionally. The same note theorizes that Rod chose him either because he already had a reputation for publishing alien stories, or because they live in the same area.
  • Author Michael Crichton has done this with several of his books:
    • In the original book version of Jurassic Park, one of the many differences from its (subsequent) film adaptation was the death of Ian Malcolm. In the sequel novel, Malcolm explains that his death was just a rumour, leading the reader to believe that the original novel was merely an imperfect retelling of the actual events. (The original novel was also prefaced by "The InGen Incident", a historical-nonfiction-style bit about the problems the book's events caused.)
    • The Andromeda Strain is presented as a docudrama-style recounting of actual events, complete with a bibliography listing relevant scientific papers (most of the citations are real, but some are fakes supposedly authored by characters from the book).
    • Crichton also did it with Eaters of the Dead. Aside from the footnotes scattered through the book (again a mix of real and fake information), the beginning is an actual historical document, written by the real Ahmad ibn Fadlan, up to the point where he heads off with the Vikings to battle the Wendol. The novel is portrayed as a translation of ibn Fadlan's writing that extended past the point where the real ibn Fadlan stopped (even having the end of the novel terminate just as another adventure seemed to start, indicating there was more yet to happen but the manuscript had been lost). Crichton commented at one point, a few years after writing it, that he had forgotten where the fictional part of the novel actually started.
    • Rising Sun is apparently the narrator, a detective, telling a story in an LAPD interview room.
  • Roald Dahl:
    • James and the Giant Peach doesn't seem like it follows this trope at first, until it invokes it in the very last line in the book. We are told that James lived a happy life and grew up to become an author, and his most famous book was the true account of his adventures on the giant peach. "And that," the story concludes, "is the book you have just finished reading.".
    • The BFG also doesn't seem like it follows this trope at first, until the end, where it's revealed that the BFG himself wrote the book about his and Sophie's adventures and published it under a pseudonym. The story concludes: "But where, you might ask, is this book that the BFG wrote? It's right here. You've just finished reading it."
  • J.T. Edson would always claim that his stories were related to him by members of Hardin, Fog and Blaze clan or the Counter family; inserting author's notes to this effect in most of his novels. The only series this doesn't work for is the Bunduki novels, which take place on another planet (and, even then, Bunduki is still Mark Counter's great-grandson).
  • Paul Féval used this often with The Black Coats and other stories. But it's most dramatically played out in Vampire City.
  • H. Rider Haggard liked this idea.
    • She is purportedly a manuscript which was written by Holly, one of the protagonists of the story. He passed it to Haggard and asked him to publish it because he was about to leave on a dangerous mission and wanted the story to be told.
    • In the Allan Quatermain novels (King Solomon's Mines and sequels) this features extensively. In She and Allan (which takes place before She and before Allan Quatermain, for important reasons), Allan Quatermain writes an introduction to his memoirs of meeting Ayesha. He mentions that he will have the author publish his memoirs (the other Allan Quatermain novels follow a similar format, with some novels referring to other novels by their book titles). Quatermain mentions that he actually read Haggard's book She, and notes that the claim by one of the residents of Kor in that book that no male Caucasian had visited Kor in decades stood as false, since Quatermain had visited Kor within the last fifteen years. (Curiously, Allan Quatermain dies in the 1887 novel Allan Quatermain — published the same year as She. Quatermain must have read She not long before his death.)
  • Virtually all of Jack Higgins's World War II era novels begin in the present day with a first person-perspective framing story in which the Author Avatar (usually, but not always, named Jack Higgins) meets one of the novel's characters, from whom he learns the main story. Lampshaded in the prologue/preface to The Eagle Has Landed, which claims that "At least fifty per cent" of the novel is "documented historical fact."
  • Stephen King:
    • Late in The Dark Tower series, the heroes arrive in 1977 Maine, meet with Stephen King, and instruct him to write and publish an account of their exploits. In this case, the trope is also used to explain why Eddie Dean grew up in Queens when his home, in Co-Op City, is located in the Bronx; on his Earth, Co-Op City is located in Queens, but it's located in the Bronx in "the real world" and so King was accurately describing the lay of the land in the quasi-fictional New York from which Dean hails. (Eddie initially loses his temper; he believes he grew up in the wrong borough because King made a mistake.)
    • More than that, King attempts to use the Dark Tower series to tie together all his books under the "existing Multiverse channeled by Author's imagination" theory. We also know this as Canon Welding.
    • Stephen King also does this with some of the more recent books written under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman. In the forewords to those, King claims that the books were unfinished manuscripts by the late Bachman that he (King) had been asked to polish and update for release after Bachman died of "cancer of the pseudonym". (This makes him an author with a Direct Line to Himself, oddly enough.)
  • C. S. Lewis :
    • The Chronicles of Narnia: Lewis claims to be recounting the tales as told to him by an unknown individual or individuals, likely one or more of the Pevensie children. This is made explicit in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: "Lucy could only say, 'It would break your heart.' 'Why,' said I, 'was it so sad?' 'Sad!! No,' said Lucy." This is why the narrator often confesses ignorance as to things that the children themselves do not know. One reason he does this is that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came about when three children, Margaret, Mary and Katherine, were evacuated from London and sent to live with him during the war (yes, the professor is Lewis). The four children of the book are inspired by them. A minor line from The Magician's Nephew notes that "Mr. Sherlock Holmes was still living on Baker Street", which is a Shout-Out from one author-with-a-Direct-Line to another.
    • The first two-thirds of The Space Trilogy, aka the Ransom novels, are based on the premise that Lewis is the ghostwriter for the "real" Doctor Ransom, whose name has been changed but whose bizarre interplanetary adventures are true. (In real Real Life, Ransom was based on Lewis's good friend J. R. R. Tolkien.) Out of the Silent Planet even ends with a chapter explaining how the Lewis came to learn of the story from Ransom, and why they decided to publish the story in the guise of fiction: to avoid reprisals from the Real Life counterparts of the villains, and because the events were simply too outrageous to be believed if they were published as nonfiction. This is then followed by a letter from Ransom pointing out all the details of the adventure that Lewis got wrong or were simply too esoteric to convey in writing. The next novel, Perelandra continues with the Agent Hypothesis in the text, but includes a preface stating that all the human characters are fictitious and non-allegorical. The final novel, That Hideous Strength, drops all pretense, and in fact events in the book flatly contradict actual then-current political history.
    • C. S. Lewis claims he stumbled upon The Screwtape Letters in a foreword in the book; given that they are letters from a demon to his apprentice, this one is forgivable. Lewis himself gives it only the briefest (and funniest) of Hand Waves, asking the reader not to delve too deeply into how he acquired them.
  • John Masefield:
    • The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue at the end of The Midnight Folk includes a couple of lapses into first-person, indicating that the author lives in the neighbourhood where the novel is set and has met (or, in the case of the fox, had his poultry raided by) some of the characters, and implying that he was told the story by the protagonist.
    • The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue at the end of Odtaa takes the form of a set of in-universe documents, one of which is a letter from the protagonist to the author commenting on the manuscript of the novel and offering an update on what he's been up to since the events described.
  • The shorter works of Swedish author Fritjof Nilsson Piraten slide into and out of this. Some are short stories where no direct claim is made to their authenticity. Some are short self-biographical pieces that clearly are made to be taken at face value as things that happened to the author - but then the things that happened are outrageous or absurd. Like the time he conned a British Lord into thinking he was a rich nobleman himself who basically owned his hometown Tranås. Often, he tells a perfectly believable (or supposed to be) episode in his life, until he meets an eccentric character who tells a fantastic story from their lives. Sometimes, Piraten openly tells us he thinks that person is lying, but that he won't say so to their faces or that he isn't sure. A lot of what he tells is mixed with actual places and people, so sometimes you will be surprised that this is just life embellished, and not a tall tale. These pieces are treated the same and published together.
  • Beatrix Potter occasionally mentions her own involvement in the world of Peter Rabbit and friends; for instance in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny she says she once bought a pair of mittens made by Peter's mother. Mostly she comes across as a not-entirely-detached observer; a naturalist (which she was) in a world where the Lake District is home to Civilized Animals.
  • A specialty of Rick Riordan:
    • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Riordan is a Senior Scribe at Camp Half-Blood, publishing the books as works of fiction. Even so, Percy takes time in the first book to warn the readers that if they think they're a half blood, to shut out that feeling and remember that it's just fiction. This continues in the rest of The Camp Half-Blood Series (The Heroes of Olympus, The Trials of Apollo, etc.).
    • The Kane Chronicles: Riordan claims to have been presented with a series of audio recordings by Carter and Sadie Kane. These recordings often includes the sounds of them fighting over the microphone to present their version of a certain event, and Riordan includes them as part of the transcription.
  • Sir Walter Scott was fond of this. In Old Mortality he took it to extremes, claiming he got the story from Peter Pattieson, who got it from Jedediah Cleishbotham, who got it from Old Mortality.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The core of the story of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings exists In-Universe as their respective protagonists Bilbo's diary and Frodo's account of his adventures, which combined are called the Red Book of Westmarch. This original Red Book was supposedly copied into an edition called The Thain's Book, to which someone added a few volumes of Translations from the Elvish (effectively, The Silmarillion) by Bilbo. This was copied in turn by one 'Findegil, the King's Writer' — the date this copy was made is the last dated event in the book, so we can presume Tolkien 'discovered and translated' this copy.
      The story begins with Bilbo's homely descriptions of the hobbit characters' interaction, gradually changes to Frodo's scholarly and slightly purple narration throughout most of the rest of the book, and culminates with Sam's down-to-earth, humble (but still educated) language towards the end — the second half of Book Six of LotR, detailing the Scouring and renewal of the Shire, is directly implied to have been written by Sam. (Frodo: "I have finished. The last few pages are for you.")
    • In The Book of Lost Tales, the earliest version of The Silmarillion, the stories are told via a Framing Device of elves telling them to an Anglo-Saxon mariner, Ælfwine, who stumbled upon the Elvish island Tol Eressëa, who then writes them down and takes them back to England. His book is found long afterwards in the ruins of an old house and ends up with Tolkien who, being a Professor of Old English, translates it. The two contradict each other because the 'Anglo-Saxon mariner' framing story gives us one version of events (The Book of Lost Tales), while Bilbo is the editor/author of Translations from the Elvish (aka The Silmarillion), a different account of the same myths.

Individual works:

  • Practically all novels at the beginning of the genre (roughly the 18th Century) used this device, claiming to be either memoirs/autobiographies or caches of letters, i.e. epistolary novels. It was not until Henry Fielding that the third-person omniscient narrator was introduced. Examples:

  • An Account Of A Meeting With Denizens Of Another World 1871 by William Robert Loosley, edited and with commentary by David Langford, describes Loosley meeting an alien, with Langford's commentary explaining how he found the (fake) manuscript in the (real) secret drawer of a desk his wife had inherited, built by her ancestor the (real) William Loosley. Langford then had to spend years telling ufologists that he'd made it up. Not all of them believed him.
  • True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole, Margaret Hilda Roberts and Susan Lilian Townsend has author biographies for all three "authors". According to Sue Townsend's she was sued by Adrian for trying to pass his diaries off as fiction.
  • According to Huck in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Mark Twain was pretty accurate with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), though "There was things which he stretched".
  • Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz Series is written in first person, with the narrator stating that Brandon Sanderson is a separate person that has agreed to use his name as a cover, meant to hide the book from the titular Ancient Conspiracy of Librarians who rule the world. The author biography states that "Alcatraz has met Brandon Sanderson, and he was not impressed."
  • Alfonso Bonzo by Andrew Davies is presented as having been told to the author by the protagonist, Billy Webb. It ends with a letter supposedly written to the publisher by the title character, complaining of having been misrepresented.
  • Robert Littell used this trope for The Amateur, published in 1980. He notes in a prologue that Charlie Heller (the main protagonist of the novel) met with him to have the novel published. Littell notes that Heller had learned of Littell's "fictionalization" of the events depicted in The Defection of A.J. Lewinter and The Debriefing. Internal details suggest that the events of The Amateur took place in 1972 (i.e. a terrorist victim's gravestone reads 1972).
  • Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody novels are framed as being excerpts from the rather extensive and detailed journals Mrs. Emerson kept over many decades, starting approximately with her initial trip to Egypt in the 1880s, during which she met the man who would become her husband. Later volumes also include excerpts from "Manuscript H", written by Amelia's son Ramses. Elizabeth Peters takes on the role of the editor of these journals in the author's notes, which allows some extensive Lampshade Hanging: she often expresses exasperation at the inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the text, such as the signs that the journals were rewritten many years later with an eye towards publication ("Little Did I Know..."), and Amelia's tendency to put her own opinions in the mouths of her famous contemporaries.
  • Animorphs: The opening chapter of every book invokes this trope, and every now and then it also comes into the body of the story as well. There are a number of issues with the implementation, such as characters narrating right up to their deaths, and the fact that even though they refuse to give their real name or hometown in case their enemies read the books, they still give away plenty of other information their enemies would find useful — which this is not the place to discuss in detail. The use of the second person in opening narration is primarily just a way to put the reader in the fearful background.
  • Artemis Fowl:
    • The first book is written as an in-universe LEP psych report.
    • Some later printings add a "This man is not my biographer" preword from Artemis.
    • The final book ends with Holly telling their adventures to an amnesiac Artemis, starting off the same way as the original book . Meaning she's Narrator All Along and conveniently words it the same as Dr Argon's psych report.
  • The Athenian Murders by Jose Carlos Somoza is supposed to be the translation of an ancient Greek prose work, much annotated by a translator who we suppose is from the end of the twentieth century. As it turns out, the translator himself is a fictional character, invented by an ancient Greek writer...who has written the whole book, notes included...and appeared as a very minor character in the initial novel itself.
  • At the Back of the North Wind by George Macdonald has it that the protagonist told all his adventures to the author near the end of his life; Macdonald himself appears as a character in the last few chapters.

  • In one of the first "Bernie Rhodenbarr" novels (by Lawrence Block) to come out after Burglar (the rather loose 1987 film adaptation of the earlier novels starring Whoopi Goldberg as Bernie), there is a prologue in which the author recounts a discussion he allegedly had with the "real" Rhodenbarr about the rather drastic difference between his older male Jewish self and Goldberg. Rhodenbarr claimed that he in fact actually had a distant name-alike cousin who was younger, female and black, and allowed as how the movie was probably about her instead of him.
  • The Books of Pellinor are supposedly translations of a saga from the land of Edil-Amarandh.
  • According to the afterword of the first volume of Book of the New Sun, The Shadow of the Torturer, the series is the result of Gene Wolfe, the author, translating a text that was written in the distant future.
  • James Howe's Bunnicula series claims in the prologues that Howe is simply the literary agent for a dog, the Dr. Watson to a cat who fancies himself a paranormal investigator par excellence.
  • Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is set up as though it is a recounting of actual historical events (with even an introduction from its fictitious author presenting it as a biography), and the narrator himself expresses himself in such a way that he cannot help but become a character in the novel, even though he does not directly affect any of the action.

  • In Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series, Spider claims to be transcribing stories told to him by the narrator, Jake Stonebender. He even goes as far as writing Author's Notes and Prefaces "in character" as a Callahan's regular.
  • Chaucer combines this trope with Author Avatar in The Canterbury Tales, which is presented as Chaucer's transcription of all the tales the other people on his pilgrimage are telling, and he throws in a couple of his own.
  • Pablo Bernasconi's children's book Captain Arsenio Inventions And Misadventures In Flight is said to be relaying the recently found diary of the title character.
  • Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood: His Odyssey is supposedly based on a number of historical sources, and at one point the author skips over several days' worth of narration because water damage on the ship's log had rendered it illegible.
  • The first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, is a subversion: Walpole never pretended that the events in it had actually happened, only that an Italian clergyman had believed in and recorded them.
  • John DeChancie's Castle Perilous books are purported to be true adventures (except Castle Dreams) written down by Osmirik, Court Scribe and Royal Librarian to Lord Incarnadine, and are so 'introduced' by him at the beginning of each entry into the series (after they've been smuggled through the portal, or Aspect, to our world). Later it is revealed that Lord Incarnadine himself takes on the identity of a writer here on Earth, passing off Osmirik's accounts as his own fantasy works (presumably under the pseudonym of DeChancie himself!). This self-mockery reaches its height in Castle Dreams when 'Osmirik' claims never to have seen the earlier novels, let alone written them or their prefaces, and engages in a long and lively debate about alternate realities, how the magic of the castle could have spontaneously produced such works, and the literary merit (or lack thereof) of such "cheap trash" with "terrible cover art." It even enters Mind Screw territory when he not only denounces the footnotes which appear throughout the book, but claims in a second preface that the first one appeared in the book before he had even written it.
  • All the Cathy's _____ books are like that. Particularly in the third book when Emma decides that they will publish Cathy's journal and the evidence collected as a fantasy novel.
  • The Cat Who... Series: Book #28 (The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell) is the first and only book in the main series to imply that the books are based on real people, as it ends with a short note which involves Qwill calling Lilian Jackson Braun to interview her for the Qwill Pen.
  • In Traci Harding's Celestial Triad, it is revealed that all of Tori Alexander's adventures were placed in the author's subconscious as part of the heroine's karmic debt to this universe.
  • Cheap Complex Devices (2002) by John Compton Sundman claims in the foreword that, amongst other things, it was written by a computer, as was his previous book, Acts of the Apostles, and that the purported author of Acts of the Apostles, John F. X. Sundman, stole credit for the book. Sundman is only ever referred to as the "editor" of Cheap Complex Devices.
  • The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series by James A. Owen: The three protagonists are revealed at the end of the book to be J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and their friend Charles Dodgson. Their adventures bring them close to things like magic wardrobes and elven cities which they claim to use as inspiration. H.G. Wells acts as their mentor, having admitted that The Time Machine is an autobiography and he had a child with Weena. The second book introduces James Barrie, who personally knew Peter Pan. The most recent book has an undead Edgar Allan Poe admit that "The Cask of Amontillado" is not a short story, but an instruction manual he wrote for how to deal with his enemies.
  • The Ciaphas Cain novels are presented as Cain's unpublished tell-all memoirs which were found after his death by Inquisitor Amberly Vail who is editing and releasing them to her fellow Inquisitors. The excerpts that she inserts to provide additional information and context are also taken from books that exist within the 40K universe, notably Jenit Sulla's official memoirs Like a Phoenix From the Flames: The Founding of the 597th.
  • The ebook and print versions of The Comfortable Courtesan by L A Hall claim that Hall is editing an actual handwritten nineteenth-century diary found in the attic of an English stately home.
  • The Coming Race presents itself as a nonfiction book about the customs of the Vril-ya that the narrator wrote after his return to the earth's surface.
  • Robert E. Howard wrote to friends about how "a stream of stories just flowed out of my ... typewriter" and "I did not seem to be creating but rather relating events that had occurred" when writing Conan.
  • Zohra Greenhalgh's Contrarywise doesn't feature this, but in the sequel Trickster's Touch, one of the main characters visits the author, indicating that he'd recounted the events of the previous book to her.
  • In Courtship Rite, this appears in the afterword, in a more-than-usually tongue-in-cheek version, where the author claims the work is based on real research into galactic records.
  • Anthony Horowitz went one step further in his Daniel Hawthorne novels by actually making a fictionalised version of himself the titular detective's sidekick, accompanying Hawthorne on his investigations.
  • Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd is an essay made to look like a homework assignment written by Tash Arranda of Galaxy of Fear. Its full title is actually "Death in the Slave Pits of Lorrd, or What I Did on My Inter-Term Break". She actually cites her sources at the bottom.
  • Chuck Palahniuk's novel Diary ends with a letter addressed to Palahniuk explaining the origin of the manuscript it's accompanying, clearly the rest of the book. The name of the letter-writer does not appear anywhere else in the book, but the letter was sent from the childhood hometown of protagonist Misty.
  • The 1824 short story Diary of a Parish Clerk by Steen Steensen Blicher (one of the greatest classics in Danish literature) is presented as fragments of an authentic diary from the 18th Century.
  • The Dinotopia books are prefaced with James Gurney's claim that they are merely reproductions of real journals that he's found, rather than being fiction. The second book has Arthur Denison's journal - implied to be the same as the previous book - being lost at sea and the story continues from this point regardless, but this book is a stylistic change, lacking a note from Gurney and being in third person. Journey to Chandara returns to this trope.
  • Kim Newman's Diogenes Club series describes the adventures of a secret society protecting the world from supernatural menaces. In the author's notes at the end of Mysteries of the Diogenes Club, he claims that he was going to include a proper explanation of one of the Cryptic Background References, but the current Chairperson of the Diogenes Club asked him to leave the explanation out.
  • Discworld:
    • Stephen Player's picture of the Mended Drum in The Discworld Calendar 2015 suggests this, as the table nearest the viewer has a modern biro and pint glass sitting on it. The beermat over the glass has Terry Pratchett's signature doodled on it. The implication is that Sir Terry pops into the Drum now and then and takes notes.
    • The spin-off Tiffany Aching's Guide to Being a Witch (written by Rhianna Pratchett and Gabrielle Kent, illustrated by Paul Kidby) is written as an in-universe work, which isn't itself this trope. However, there are a couple references to Tiffany having to arrange sittings for the book's artwork that indicate Kidby is the artist in-universe as well.
  • In Doc Savage novels, there are a couple of references to Monk and/or Patricia writing up details of Doc's adventures and passing them on to the man who writes the novels (i.e. Lester Dent a.k.a. 'Kenneth Robeson'). Doc himself is not very impressed by Dent's literary style.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • The EU features a character called Professor Candy, who argues that the Doctor deliberately creates a show similar to Doctor Who on a number of worlds to make sure that no-one believes he really exists.
    • The prose Expanded Universe has also implied that the films featuring Peter Cushing as "Doctor Who" exist within the main universe, and are film adaptations of a series of SF novels written by Barbara Wright and inspired by her time as a companion. Reportedly, Russell T Davies intended to include this within the TV show, but couldn't get the legal permissions required to use a real-world movie poster.
    • The Legacy of Gallifrey in Doctor Who Magazine #100 opens by explaining this history id derived from fragments of the Scrolls of Gallifrey that were found in a churchyard, and subsequently translated and decoded by Gary Russell.
  • Don Quixote: Cervantes parodies the trope. It was used by a lot of (today forgotten) authors of chivalry books who claimed that their story was based in an old manuscript found in an ancient pyramid or another ruined building in some faraway country, written in an exotic language by a wise, famed wizard who favoured the hero of the novel. Those claims are made to feign that the chivalry book was Inspired by… real events. Cervantes twists this and uses it to comic effect, explaining that the next part of the novel was found in some pamphlets and papers (only a few years old) found in Alcana de Toledo (a real city in Spain) in a silk mercer store, written in Arabic (a fair known language in Spain) by a (foolish) boy who didn't know what was written and so sold the papers to Cervantes for peanuts. If we include the funny name of the wizard and the fact that the second author, the translator and Cide Hamete Benengeli are always making comments about the book, we can see that Cervantes wants us to admit that all this tale is a long sequence of lies and nonsense... just like all the chivalry books.
  • Much of the plot of Bram Stoker's Dracula is about the construction of the book itself and how Mina Harker's compilation of the characters' journals, interview transcripts, and the like helps the characters deduce Dracula's identity and nature and ultimately defeat him. To some extent, the book is practically an advertisement for that wondrous new invention, the typewriter.
  • Steven Brust's Dragaera novels occasionally place Brust as the translator of the stories from Dragaeran into English. He even has an interview with Paarfi, the "original author" of the Khaavren Romances, who is outraged by the changes that Brust admits he had to make. In one of the Vlad Taltos novels, Vlad mentions in one story that he's narrating his stories into a cylinder in return for gold. Tiassa clarifies that a man from "very far East" (presumably Brust) met Vlad through Sethra Lavode, who met him through the Necromancer, and offered 500 Imperials of unminted gold for a few hours of conversation.
  • Dragonlance:
    • Dragonlance: The New Adventures: In the spinoff book A Practical Guide to Dragons, Sindri mentions meeting "A young bard by the name of Tim Waggoner" (the Real Life author of the first book in the series, Temple of the Dragonslayer) and telling him about his and his friends' adventures. The Dragon Codices also follow this format, with the introductions claiming the books are based on notes and stories sent by Sindri to the scribes of the Great Library of Palanthas.
    • The forewords to the Dragonlance Tales short story collections have Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman gathering more stories from the world of Krynn ... as they try to convince Tasslehoff Burrfoot to return the magical device that can take them back to Earth.
  • The Dresden Files are implied to be Harry narrating his case files to, well, the reader. The RPG book lampshades this by pointing out that Harry names all his major cases with two word titles that have the same character length (Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, etc.).

  • The Ellery Queen books, aping as they did the Philo Vance series early on, present several convoluted uses of this trope. Early novels, starting with the first, The Roman Hat Mystery in 1929, have framing sequences which establish that the stories actually took place in the previous decade, i.e., the 1910s, and that all of the names have been changed. In other words, "Ellery Queen" was a pseudonym not only in real life, but in the novels as well.
  • exegesis is not only an e-mail Epistolary Novel, but it's implied that it's really supposed to be actual e-mails released in book form by Alice Lu (one of the main characters).

  • George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series blurs a number of lines. The title character is lifted from a Victorian novel (along with at least two supporting characters), and occasional supporting characters are lifted from other works of fiction (notably Colonel Sebastian Jack Moran and Sherlock Holmes himself), but most characters are from actual recorded history (minor characters are often invented by Fraser). Despite Flashman's life story being preposterous, it weaves fairly seamlessly into the myriad real events he becomes involved with, lending credence to Fraser's claim to be the agent for one Paget Morrison, who inherited Flashman's memoirs. Among copious footnotes by the "editor", a few point out that Flashman's memory must be mistaken, as it's known from other sources that (e.g.) X died before Y reached India.... The conceit worked well enough that (according to a 1969 article in Time magazine), at least 10 American reviewers of the first novel thought it was an actual autobiography.
  • The introduction to Frankenstein frames it as a letter from a sea captain to his sister after he briefly picked up the title character (and no, that's not the monster) in the Arctic and copied his story down. Making this even more complicated is the fact that Frankenstein quotes the monster for several chapters, and the monster also tells a story within a story within a story about the family he first sheltered with.
  • Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett's Steampunk biography Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention does this to the Dime Novel Reade family. The book is written as a factual account of the famous Victorian family of inventors, one that will provide the full truth behind the Dime Novel stories.
  • All the books in the Geronimo Stilton series are "written" by Geronimo himself, which is reflected on the About The Author page.
  • Goblins in the Castle: In the author's note at the end of the first book, Coville claims Igor to be real (and that he's Coville's "half-mad twin brother" who was born in October to Coville's May), and that one night, he brought the story to Coville after several years of friendship, though it took several more years to get it published. The author's note at the end of Goblins on the Prowl states that Igor later brought him that story as well.
  • The Golden Hamster Saga presents all five books as the work of Freddy Auratus, the world's only literate hamster, typing on his owner Mr. John's computer. The only part not written by Freddy is the epilogue of Freddy's Final Quest, which was written by Mr. John.
  • The Chronicles of Gor started this way, with the first three books told in the first person of the main character, Tarl Cabot. Various notes are included explaining that the "author", John Norman, never met Cabot in person, but the two had a mutual acquaintence who kept finding new untitled manuscripts mysteriously left in his New York apartment, and passed them on to Norman to be published.
  • Janet Tashjian's The Gospel According to Larry (2003), and its sequels, are written as if Josh Swensen, the protagonist, was entrusting her with the story to get it out, while not revealing Where in the World is Larry now.
  • The official release of Gravity Falls: Journal 3 uses this trope as a Framing Device. The first page is a notice claiming the Journal was found by the Oregon Parks Department, and is now part of a Confiscated Items Sale/Bake-off. Bill's destruction restored the Journals to better than it was before burning it. This allowed Ford to update the Journal to the summer's end then, by Mabel's suggestion, throw it into the Bottomless Pit in hopes that it might inspire future adventurers. It ends with him essentially Breaking the Fourth Wall to the reader.
  • Otto Penzler's The Great Detectives: Various creators of detective series contributed short articles on their creations (e.g. Chester Gould on Dick Tracy, Walter Gibson on The Shadow, etc.), John Ball writes "Ms. Diane Stone, secretary to Chief Robert McGowan of the Pasadena Police Department, was on the phone. "The chief has approved the release to you of the details concerning the Morales murder" she told me. He has authorized you to go ahead with it at any time, if you want to." Of course I wanted to: the unraveling of the case via the patient, intelligent investigation work of the department in general, and Virgil Tibbs in particular, would need no embellishment in the telling. As I always do in such instances, I called Virgil and suggested a meeting. Two nights later we sat down to dine together in one of Pasadena's very fine restaurants........By the time that the main course had been put down in front of us we had gone over the Morales case in detail and Virgil had filled me in on several points which had not previously been made public. As always, I agreed to publish nothing until the department had read the manuscript and had given it an official approval. This procedure helped to eliminate possible errors and also made sure that I had not unintentionally included information which was still confidential." Later Tibbs says "I have a letter from Otto Penzler" I said. Virgil nodded recognition. "The co-author with Steinbrunner of The Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection? I have a copy." "Otto has asked me for a piece about your background. How much may I tell him?" I should insert a footnote here. Virgil Tibbs is basically a quiet, self-effacing man....He has mentioned to me more than once that my accounts of some of his cases have proved somewhat embarrassing to him. However, Chief McGowan feels that these books help explain the police function to the citizenry at large and to show how modern, enlightened police departments function."
  • In Grinny by Nicholas Fisk, it's said that Fisk is a friend of the family to whom the children told their story after it was all over. In the sequel, You Remember Me, he has a cameo in the story as one of the children tries to ask his advice about the new events as they're still happening.
  • The Guild of Specialists is the absolute grandmaster of this trope. The three books are absolute works of art, each designed to look like a diary and filled to the brim with maps, diagrams and sketches, some folding out to as much as four or five pages. There are antique photographs (purportedly) of the characters and settings and museum-style photographs of objects that appear in the books. It is truly something to behold and the level of immersion the books create is fantastic.
  • The narrator of The Hampdenshire Wonder is an unnamed journalist researching the life of the Wonder.
  • Hari Lek by "Ganpat" is about Harry Lake's adventures in a Hidden Elf Village in 1920s Central Asia. The author claims that he merely edited Lake's manuscript, and is unable to say if it really happened or not, because Lake remains in hiding in the Elf village.
  • Harry Potter:
    • As of The Tales of Beedle the Bard the Harry Potter series has this. It's kind of weird to see Rowling write footnotes to Dumbledore's commentary of Beedle's tales, which were translated by Hermione. The foreword by Rowling references The Deathly Hallows from the "seventh book of the biography of Harry Potter".
    • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:
      • The 2017 edition, released the year after the film of the same title, includes a foreword by Newt Scamander implying the film is a recently-declassified account of actual events, and he mentions "As more documents become declassified over the coming years, I will be freer to speak openly about my role during that dark period of our history."
      • The "School Books" had a twist on this. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages assert that the wizarding world is real, and these books are magically copied (with a foreword added by Dumbledore) from real books from Hogwarts. Complete with graffiti written in the margins by Harry and his friends, no less.
  • Hieroglyphics is supposedly theories of an odd friend of Machen's and that Machen merely wrote them down. The friend attempts to defy it, saying he'd rather assume readers believe the theories were Machen's own rather than his.
  • Steve Hockensmith's mystery/Western Holmes on the Range (about a cowboy who is inspired to take up detective work after reading several Sherlock Holmes stories) doesn't just use the Literary Agent Hypothesis but starts off being Direct Line to the Author as well. The story itself uses the original literary agent hypothesis — it sets out Holmes as a real person, one of the villains is related to a character from the Holmes story "The Noble Bachelor", and it's eventually revealed that the book is set two years after "The Final Problem".
  • Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves is entirely based around the idea that the reader is reading a manuscript found by the editor — who tells his own story in footnotes, including events that reference the effect of the book on the real world and an encounter with the author's sister's band, Poe, who released an album "Haunted" from the point of view of one of the characters of the story. There are further layers to this metaphysical tale, and it includes and subverts any number of science fiction, horror and fiction tropes. There's also the author of the manuscript's claim that not only is The Navidson Record real, despite the editor's insistence that no such documentary exists, but also that the characters are real people and that Karen was the one who arranged for the tapes to be compiled. And then, in the last appendix of the book, there are pictures that imply that Zampano might be right and The Navidson Record might actually be real.
  • Cressida Cowell, writer of the How to Train Your Dragon book series, claimed she came across and translated the memoirs of Hiccup.
  • I, Claudius by Robert Graves. The entire premise of the story is that the Roman Emperor Claudius wrote a memoir giving all the inside dirt on the Imperial Family and that Mr. Graves actually did discover these secret papers, "Nineteen hundred years or near" later.
  • Carole Nelson Douglas has her Irene Adler novels include explanatory pieces by a Fiona Witherspoon, an academic historian and member of the "F.I.A." (the Friends of Irene Adler). Witherspoon claims to have spent much of her time preparing the diaries of Irene's companion Nell Huxleigh for publication. The multi-year hiatus between the first four books and the next four is "explained" by the fact that Witherspoon had to review and research not only Nell's journals, but other material "found" with them, which is presented in the text as journal entries written by other characters.
  • In the James Bond novel You Only Live Twice, when Bond is believed dead, his obituary mentions that there is a book series being written about his adventures. It also mentions that if the books were any closer to the truth, they'd prosecute the author, an old friend of Bond's, under the Official Secrets Act. And in the book version of The Spy Who Loved Me, the author says the main female gave her account of the events to him. John Pearson's "authorised biography" of Bond runs with the idea, explaining that the Bond novels were a disinformation campaign intended to keep the opposition guessing about whether Bond really existed (In a bit of ironic Canon Discontinuity, it asserts that The Spy Who Loved Me is the one novel that's completely made up). Of course, Commander Fleming really was up to his neck in skullduggery of all sorts and it is possible that he did include one or two interesting snippets from his own adventures....
  • Lin Carter's John Carter of Mars pastiche series Jandar Of Callisto, follows its inspiration in having Carter explain that he found the manuscripts written by John Dark (Jandar) and teleported from the Jovian moon. Lankar of Callisto takes it a step further; "Lankar" is Lin Carter himself, who accidentally follows Jandar's teleporter while waiting for the next volume.
  • Bertie Wooster, narrator of the Jeeves and Wooster series, makes several references to himself as the author.
  • The novelization of the 1995 Judge Dredd movie is written in the style of an In-Universe text book retelling one of Dredd's adventures for trainee judges.
  • In the Alasdair Gray novel Lanark, the title character is invited through a door in the fourth wall, finds himself in the author's studio, and has a discussion with the author about the novel and its plot. Gray admits that he hasn't yet written the narrative surrounding the scene they are in so Lanark will know more about it than he does - but nevertheless, he is surprised to hear that there is a character, Lanark's son, which he has not planned to create and does not think would fit into the book.
  • In Last and First Men (1930) by Olaf Stapledon, the foreword claims that, while the author believed himself to be writing fiction, in reality, he was writing under the influence of the distant-future Last Men, who used a sort of time-traveling telepathy to influence past minds.
  • In the afterword to The Last Days Of New Paris, Miéville claims that he was summoned to a hotel room by an old friend, where he instead met a mysterious man who relates the story in a huge, 36-hour marathon. He suspects the man was the artist/protagonist Thibaut.
  • The Left Hand of Darkness: The book is written as the protagonist's combination of his recollections, and the deuteragonist's mission log.
  • E. E. "Doc" Smith in the Lensman series refers to himself as "the historian" in later books, and mentions that he was the first person to read the declassified accounts of the characters' adventures.
  • The epistolary novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses (a.k.a. Dangerous Liaisons) includes both an "Editor's Preface" claiming that these letters are real and all the author did was prune them a bit, and a "Publisher's Note" (also written by the author) expressing extreme doubt that this is really a true story, mainly because people in this day and age would never be so wicked as the characters in the book are.
  • Les Misérables: Hugo frequently refers to the characters as real people and also the research which he did in assembling their stories. Some of the characters also know of Hugo: at one point, M. Gillenormand even criticizes Hernani, a play written by him.
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel is supposedly a novelization of true events; the prologue features Martel himself in India, meeting the character Mamaji who, in turn, tells him about the main character, Pi. The first section of the novel is the story of Pi's childhood, interlaced with scenes of Martel supposedly meeting and interviewing Pi as an adult. (The rest is about a shipwreck, a tiger and some Japanese guys.)
  • The Lorien Legacies: The alleged 'author' of the books is a character - Pittacus Lore, the most prominent of the Elders - and the actual authors, James Frey and Jobie Hughes, get little to no credit (they are referenced in I Am Number Four, where 'James Hughes' and 'Jobie Frey' are potential pseudonyms for Four's next life). However, the immersion is shattered somewhat in Fall Of Five, where Malcolm confirms that the character of Pittacus Lore is dead.
  • In the The Lost Years of Merlin books, the stories are said to have been related to the author directly by Merlin.
  • Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis starts out as this and stays just feasible enough to keep you guessing for a while. Descends into full-on Mind Screw later on though.
  • The acknowledgements section of The Magicians of Caprona has Diana Wynne Jones explain that the story was incomplete when it arrived from Chrestomanci's world, and thanking the people who helped her "find out" what happened in the Wizard Duel and the words to the song.
  • The Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson stories are all credited "by Bitsy Spiegleman, as told to George Alec Effinger". Bitsy is supposedly an old school chum of "Muffy" Birnbaum, who relays her tales to her friend whenever she gets a brief chance to visit our Earth again. Bitsy, in her turn is relaying the stories to Effinger, since he's a professional writer.
  • The foreword of The Moon Pool presents the novel as something that the fictional International Association of Science commissioned author Abraham Merritt to write in order to put to rest the rumors about the events touched upon in the book:
    For these reasons the Executive Council commissioned Mr. A. Merritt to transcribe into form to be readily understood by the layman the stenographic notes of Dr. Goodwin's own report to the Council, supplemented by further oral reminiscences and comments by Dr. Goodwin; this transcription, edited and censored by the Executive Council of the Association, forms the contents of this book.
  • Kurt Vonnegut presents Mother Night as the actual memoirs of Howard J. Campbell Jr, going so far as to describe how he edited one chapter for obscenity.
  • Umberto Eco engages in Lampshade Hanging in The Name of the Rose, initially claiming that the work is an adaptation of a translation of an account by the novel's protagonist, ostensibly written well after the events occurred, but then proceeding to criticize the accuracy of the account, both directly in the foreword and implicitly in the epilogue. He does the same in The Prague Cemetery.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's genre-creating detective stories featured a subtle version of this, with the end of one being withheld until the completion of the criminal's trial.
    • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket started off as this (Poe said it was based on a true story). Taken a step further at the end: in fact, there is no "end". Pym died before he finished recounting his tale to Poe, and the last few chapters were lost with him.
  • Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries are all narrated by Wolfe's assistant, Archie Goodwin, who occasionally mentions the publication of the books.
  • Some of the Nick Carter stories of the late 19th century and early 20th century used this idea. In the story 'Nick Carter and the Professor', the narrator states "and it may be explained that the operations of the four, as described in the first chapter of this account, were learned from the confession of one of them, who turned State's evidence". In the story 'Nick Carter's Mysterious Case' a footnote appears, after an asterisk in the main body of the page, reading "The detective [Nick Carter] has told me that he [a man Carter offered a reward] never came. What his was, is a mystery. AUTHOR". Another story has a note "The following story was told to the writer by Nick Carter" and "I tell the story in my own way and in the third person, but the facts, scenes and incidents are reproduced as nearly as possible in the great detective's own words. THE AUTHOR".
  • The novels in Michael Moorcock's Nomad Of The Time Streams sequence are presented in this fashion; all three are presented as being accounts / letters written by the protagonist, Oswald Bastable, to Moorcock's grandfather (also named Michael Moorcock); the first two were delivered personally to Moorcock's grandfather, but the last was delivered to Moorcock himself, as his grandfather had passed away by the time the time-and-reality-swapping messenger managed to deliver it to him.
  • Elizabeth Strout's novel Olive Kitteridge was published with an afterword in the form of a conversation between Strout, an interviewer from Random House Publishing...and Olive Kitteridge herself. Olive does not think much of Strout's book.
  • T.H. White's The Once and Future King based his story much upon Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, his inclusion of Malory as a young squire to Arthur who is entrusted with recording the events of the story.
  • The Author's Foreword in The Pale King. David Foster Wallace claims that all of it is true, yet he points out the disclaimer on the copyright page states that the characters and events are fictitious. He spends a good portion of the chapter noting the inherent paradox.
    In other words, this Foreword is is defined by the disclaimer as itself fictional, meaning that it lies within the area of special legal protection established by that disclaimer. I need this legal protection in order to inform you that what follows is, in reality, not fiction at all, but substantially true and accurate. That The Pale King is, in point of fact, more like a memoir than any kind of made-up story.
    • He also notes that he was not legally allowed to mention his publisher in the text - no one wants to mess with the IRS, after all - despite the fact that the publisher's name is featured on the book's spine.
  • The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond by G. K. Chesterton occasionally references Chesterton's role in documenting Mr Pond's investigations, including one point in "The Crime of Captain Gahagan" in which he is unable to even summarise a conversation between Mr Pond and Joan Varney, because Mr Pond always refused to discuss it with anyone else.
  • Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera did this, claiming that Leroux put together the story from firsthand accounts from people who lived and worked at the Opera House. Later, the introduction to Frederick Forsyth's Phantom of Manhattan continues in the same vein, pointing out Leroux's mistakes as if the entire story were true and Leroux just got some of the facts wrong.
  • Willard Wright wrote the Philo Vance novels under the pen name S.S. Van Dine. S.S. Van Dine appears as the narrator (characters will refer to his presence in their dialogue, but Van Dine has no dialogue). Oddly enough, some of the Philo Vance novels depicted him murdering the murderer. However, Van Dine established that Philo Vance had retired to Italy, whose fascist government probably would not have extradited him.
  • This is the framing device of The Pledge, when the author attends a literature conference and stumbles across the protagonist's former senior Detective, who leads him to the protagonist himself (at that point of time an elderly, demented filling station attendant), and only then reveals to him who the protagonist was and why he ended up that way, thus setting the actual story in motion.
  • The Princess Bride is introduced as a story edited down from a "famous" piece of literature written by S. Morgenstern, a fictional resident of the fictional country of Florin. The real author, William Goldman, claims that this is the Good Parts Version his father (an immigrant from Florin) read to him as a child. There are frequent "editor's notes" which summarize the excised text (these summaries can run for pages, being nothing but lists of how many pages were spent on the various mundanities of, say, Buttercup packing so she could move (three whole pages on her blouses, was the guy nuts?), or the things Buttercup was taught so she could be a royal, in order to impress upon us how very grateful we are to Mr. Goldman for editing the book). At one point Goldman claims he wrote an additional scene which the publisher refused to include and gives an address one may write to in order to obtain it. Letters sent to that address are answered with an explanation that someone acting on the original author's behalf is still blocking publication of the additional scene. Later editions blurred the line further, with an afterword of Goldman recounting a meeting he had with Stephen King while he was writing the (real) screenplay for Misery. He portrays King as a big fan of the original book who was outraged at some of the changes Goldman made. King is also alleged to be doing the abridgment of the long lost sequel Buttercup's Baby. One of the later editions goes even further, revealing that the deal with Stephen King fell through, so Goldman is doing Buttercup's Baby... and he includes the first bits of it, resolving the cliffhanger ending of the original book (while providing a new cliffhanger).
  • The Pushcart War did this, except that at the time of publication the dates given in the book were in the future. At least one reader read the book as a kid and didn't realize it was fiction because by that time the dates in her copy were fifteen or twenty years in the past.

  • The Railway Series has, for a long time, acknowledged the existence of the books in its own universe. The Rev. W. Awdry even wrote himself into the books as an enthusiast called "The Thin Clergyman," who variously gets Bert splashed with mud in Small Railway Engines, and takes part in the team that searches for and excavates the old sheds in Duke the Lost Engine. His son Christopher didn't reference this as frequently in his volumes, but the central plot of 2011's Thomas and His Friends was the railway's centennial celebration of the original author's birthday.
  • China Miéville's "Reports of Certain Events in London" is an account of a secret society which investigates migratory streets that appear and disappear from cities, derived from a package of documents delivered to him in error.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan: it is canon in author Darren Shan's books that he assembled his stories from diaries sent to him by his younger alternate self in an alternate timeline where he lived 20 years as a vampire. It Makes Sense In Context... kind of. Essentially, Darren altered the timeline so that he never became a vampire, thus resetting himself to the first book. His diaries chronicling the series survived and were sent to the alternate Darren, who is was already a writer. Thus the books actually happened, only to someone else, an innocent bystander roped into Darren's "tragic" (but heartwarming) life, forced to reenact his exact actions... see the series' Fridge page for deconstruction.
  • At the close of Knight Templar, The Saint is writing down his latest adventure "for the benefit of an author bloke I know, who has sworn to make a blood-and-thunder classic of us one day." Happily, Leslie Charteris did so.
  • Denise Mina's novel Sanctum (released as Deception in the US) is a crime novel told in diary format. The book features an introduction from Mina in which she claims she found the diary on a second-hand PC and subsequently won a court ruling that allowed her to publish the diary — much to the original author's objections — under her own name. An afterword further muddies the water by suggesting that some of the events described in the book did not happen in "real life", being exaggerations on the part of the original author.
  • There is a... let's call it elaborate... prologue to The Scarlet Letter in which Nathaniel Hawthorne explains that he did not write the story of Hester Prynne; he only found it.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: The author, Lemony Snicket, makes frequent self-references and insists that this is a true story that he has extensively researched (including meeting the Baudelaire children) in an attempt to make the story of the orphans available to the general public. "Lemony Snicket" is a pseudonym for Daniel Handler; Handler is frequently referenced as Snicket's agent but is also a background character who exists in-universe (such as the cigarette-smoking man who appears briefly in The Penultimate Peril).
  • While the books themselves do not invoke Direct Line to the Author, Garth Nix has said regarding The Seventh Tower, "Often, I get the feeling that the story is really happening somewhere and all I'm doing is trying to work out the best way to tell it."
  • In a rare example of Direct Line to the Author and Literary Agent Hypothesis, the Titan Books reprints of Sexton Blake open with introductions by editor Mark Hodder in which he discusses the context and backstory of the stories ... in the form of conversation with Blake himself, who is, of course, still alive, and describes how he came to know both Hal Meridith (his original biographer) and Viscount Northcliffe (owner of the company that bought the copyright).
  • This sort of thing is pretty much a law when it comes to Sherlock Holmes pastiches, given the fandom's emphasis on the Literary Agent Hypothesis. Traditionally, all pastiches must begin with an introduction explaining how this "lost manuscript of Dr. Watson" was discovered in an old trunk or attic and can now finally be released to the public. (The original Sherlock Holmes stories had references to Watson publishing accounts of his adventures, but never went so far as to claim that he was doing so through Arthur Conan Doyle; they always implied, if not actually stated, that in-universe Watson's accounts were published under his own name.)
    • The Mary Russell books by Laurie R. King, in which Sherlock Holmes is a major character, contain numerous prefaces and afterwords detailing the mysterious means by which King received the manuscripts which she's been editing into the books; the narratives themselves also have occasional references to Arthur Conan Doyle as Watson's agent, including Holmes's chagrin when Conan Doyle goes public with a belief in fairies.
    • Played with in Sherlock Holmes At The 1902 Fifth Test by Stanley Shaw. It begins with a foreword in which Shaw claims to have found the manuscript in the attic in his grandfather's handwriting, proceeds with his grandfather's account of how he helped Sherlock Holmes foil an attempt to sabotage the final match of the 1902 Ashes cricket series, and ends with an afterword in which Shaw notes that the account couldn't possibly be accurate, because his grandfather had a leg amputated before 1902, so he's not claiming it's a true story, just that it's very old previously-undiscovered fanfic.
    • An interesting example at the start of James Lovegrove's Cthulhu Casebooks series of mashup novels. The introduction to the first volume, Shadows in Shadwell, carefully explains how Lovegrove got these manuscripts from the estate of one Henry Prothero Lovecraft (a distant relative of both the other H. P. Lovecraft and Lovegrove himself) and that analysis suggests they are genuine. Nonetheless, since they're supposedly Watson claiming that nearly everything he wrote was a deception designed to conceal Things Man Was Not Meant to Know, Lovegrove's introduction suspects they may be some kind of bizarre hoax. His straighter Holmes pastiches are referenced, suggesting in-universe Lovegrove is loath to believe the other Watson manuscripts he edited were a pack of lies (not to mention not wanting to believe he's in a Cosmic Horror Story). By the introductions to the second and third books, he's become less sceptical (and the epilogue to the third book reveals in-universe Lovegrove has Gone Mad from the Revelation). A short story in the same setting opens with an e-mail from the lawyer who dealt with Henry Lovecraft's estate, saying he found a further letter from Watson, and rather sarcastically adding that he is happy to offer his services if Lovegrove's apparent habit of making money from other people's manuscripts result in him needing a lawyer.
    • Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not: In "The Adventure of the Madman", author Nancy Holder claims the story is transcribed from phongraph cylinders found in the effects of one of her ancestors, Mary Holder, who is a major character in the story.
    • Bonnie MacBird's Sherlock Holmes novels start with a foreword explaining she got these unpublished manuscripts from a mysterious woman known only as Lydia. In all of them the case is more personal to either Holmes or Watson than usual, implying that this is why Watson never published them.
  • In his youth, Alan Dean Foster wrote a joke letter to an Arkham House publisher, ostensibly seeking advice on how to deal with some Cosmic Horror-related documents that'd come into his possession by chance. The publisher took it for a submission, and after revision it became "Some Notes Concerning A Green Box", Foster's first published work.
  • The Songs of Bilitis is presented as a collection of poems written by Bilitis, a contemporary of Sappho, and translated by Pierre Louÿs.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles and the companion Field Guide are claimed by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi to be actual events, with the Graces having written to them and told their story. The Field Guide itself was apparently sent to them as well, with DiTerlizzi taking on the task of restoring Arthur Spiderwick's creature paintings within. The sequel trilogy, Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles goes further with the protagonists having actually read the books and Field Guide, meeting up with the authors at a book signing for help in dealing with a problem with Giants as well as actually meeting Jared, who explains that their last names were changed in the books for privacy's sake.
  • Star Trek:
    • Gene Roddenberry's novelisation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is written as though it is a record of actual events, and in fact begins with Kirk explaining to the reader that previous tales of his adventures were somewhat exaggerated.
    • The foreword of the Star Trek Online media tie-in book, The Needs of the Many by Michael A. Martin and Jake Sisko, explains that Martin's editor passed on a collection of interviews conducted by Sisko along with other pertinent historical documents to be compiled into the resulting book ("...and the accompanying derivative holoprograms.")
  • Towards the end of the third book of Story Thieves it's revealed that the author of the books, James Riley, is actually Nobody, the series' main villain, chronicling the main characters' tales in order to show the fictional world how oppressed it is. Later, at the end of the fifth and final book, the "real" James Riley is revealed to exist and is permitted by the protagonists to publish the books in the "real" world.

  • The 10th-century The Tale of Genji includes a number of references indicating that the narrator is relating a true story and that she is merely describing this story to others. For example, at the end of chapter 4:
    I had passed over Genji's trials and tribulations in silence, out of respect for his determined efforts to conceal them, and I have written of them now only because certain lords and ladies criticized my story for resembling fiction, wishing to know why even those who knew Genji best should have thought him perfect, just because he was an Emperor's son. No doubt I must now beg everyone's indulgence for my effrontery in painting so wicked a portrait of him.
    • She also uses that conceit, from time to time, to poke fun at literary clichés of her time, by saying things to the effect of "If this were a common story, I would describe such-and-such" or "If the old stories were to believed, she should've acted in such-and-such a way".
  • Tall Tale America insists throughout that it is a true account of real people from American history, even in the bibliography where it cites works of fiction as sources (the 1987 reprint breaks this with the author's afterword, though).
  • Andrei Belyanin's The Thief of Baghdad trilogy starts and ends each novel with the author describing his conversations with the actual protagonist who keeps getting transported to the "Arabian Nights" Days by a genie. The first time around, the spell causes the protagonist to have Laser-Guided Amnesia. However, the second and third times, he remembers everything. While this seems like just a claim by the author's friend without any proof to the author, the third novel breaks this by having a character from Ancient Arabia show up on the author's doorstep to tell the protagonist's story. Also, the protagonist's comments in the third novel imply that the author may have taken some liberties in writing the books.
  • John Buchan's The Three Hostages, which resumes his Richard Hannay series after a break of several years, is prefaced with a dedication to a young fan who had written asking for more about Hannay, in which Buchan claims that he recently met Hannay socially and was told by him the story that follows.
  • Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators: The very first book has Jupiter claim that all successful, well-known detectives had someone who wrote their cases for them, thus making them known to a larger audience and lending their notoriety to the marketing process. Jupiter thus wanted Hitchcock to introduce their cases, while the actual texts would be written by Bob's reporter father from his son's notes—implied to be the very books the reader was reading, of course. When Jupiter claims that Sherlock Holmes (of course), Hercule Poirot, and Ellery Queen were other detectives who had been made famous by those who wrote their books, they're implying the detectives were all real people with real cases.
  • Alexandre Dumas claimed to have found and elaborated upon records of The Three Musketeers.
  • Thrones, Dominations is a Lord Peter Wimsey novel began by Dorothy L. Sayers and completed by Jill Patton-Walsh. Patton-Walsh's introduction is written as though she was invited to continue Sayers' biography of a real person.
  • Thursday Next takes this to its logical extreme: every single book ever written is based on events in the alternate universe Bookworld, with the ideas telepathically sent to the minds of the author.
  • In Edward Ormondroyd's Time At The Top he claims the story was told to him by Susan Shaw, who lived in the same apartment building until her and her father's permanent trip into the past. In the sequel he states that he found her diary.
  • The Time Machine by H. G. Wells has a Framing Story in which an unnamed narrator is part of a group visiting "the man I shall call the Time Traveler" and hearing his story, which forms the bulk of the book. It ends with the same narrator waiting for the Time Traveler to return from his second voyage, but doubting he ever will.
    • Despite this numerous other works have run with the idea that The Time Machine is H. G. Wells's own story and depict him as an actual time traveller (cf Time After Time, Lois & Clark). In the 1960 movie adaptation of The Time Machine, the Time Traveler is referred to as "George". However, the time machine's date indicator plate clearly reads "Manufactured by H. George Wells" meaning the Time Traveller's name is... H. G. Wells.
    • The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter has the Time Traveler refer to the original book's first narrator as "the Writer" (in the same way as that narrator calls the other members of the party "the Psychologist", "the Medical Man" and so on) and includes enough details that he's clearly Wells. In addition, Baxter claims to have found the Time Traveler's account of his second voyage in a journal that mysteriously turned up in an old bookstore.
  • In "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", the narrator describes his discovery of the ancient story of Uqbar and Tlön in great detail.
  • The classic but criminally under appreciated Sword & Planet novel Transit To Scorpio was written by Kenneth Bulmer, but published under the name Alan Burt Akers. Within the books, "Akers" presents himself as the literary agent of English naval officer Dray Prescott, who is lost on the distant world of Antarres. Aker receives manuscripts regularly from Prescott, who gets booted back to Earth by the "Star Lords" whenever they get bored with jerking him around. The series expanded to 45 books (54 if you count the titles only published in German) making up 11 "cycles", and by the third or fourth book the by-line on the covers actually read "As Told to Alan Burt Akers by Dray Prescott." Kenneth Bulmer's name never appears on any of the books.
  • Inverted in True History which, while written to sound like other works of its day, was intended by its writer Lucian of Samosata as a satire about them; he declared it was about "things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." Yes, the first "none of this is real" disclaimer.
  • The Turn of the Screw is presented as an anecdote told to the author by a man at a party.

  • Utopia starts with Sir Thomas Moore describing one of his visits to the Netherlands, and then recounting a description of the Utopian society — a description he says he got from a sailor named Raphael.

  • The Virgil Tibbs series by John Ball (which began with In the Heat of the Night) has a protagonist with a Direct Line to the Author. In The Great Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler, various creators of detective series contributed short articles on their creations (e.g. Chester Gould on Dick Tracy, Walter Gibson on the Shadow, etc.); John Ball used this trope for his article on Virgil Tibbs. He writes:
    Ms. Diane Stone, secretary to Chief Robert McGowan of the Pasadena Police Department, was on the phone. "The chief has approved the release to you of the details concerning the Morales murder," she told me. He has authorized you to go ahead with it at any time, if you want to." Of course I wanted to: the unraveling of the case via the patient, intelligent investigation work of the department in general, and Virgil Tibbs in particular, would need no embellishment in the telling. As I always do in such instances, I called Virgil and suggested a meeting. Two nights later we sat down to dine together in one of Pasadena's very fine restaurants.... By the time that the main course had been put down in front of us we had gone over the Morales case in detail and Virgil had filled me in on several points which had not previously been made public. As always, I agreed to publish nothing until the department had read the manuscript and had given it an official approval. This procedure helped to eliminate possible errors and also made sure that I had not unintentionally included information which was still confidential.
  • Played with in Philip K. Dick's short story "Waterspider". The protagonists decide to fix a technological problem of their era by time-travelling into the past, the golden age of precognitives and consulting with the precog whose paper "Night Flight" foresaw their very predicament: Poul Anderson. The reader eventually realizes that the "precog society meeting" is actually a Science Fiction convention — it turns out that all the major SF authors were precogs without realizing it, and were accurately predicting the future in their writings.
  • We Can't Rewind presents itself as the narrator Don Richards' memoirs, regularly addressing the target audience as "dear readers and critics" and finally revealing the manuscript to have been transported through an inter-dimensional portal to our world from the Bizarro Universe where he resides now.
  • Terry Goodkind starts Wizard's First Rule with thanking Richard and Kahlan for telling him their story.

  • In the Xanth series, the novels are written down by Clio, the Muse of History; apparently someone's been leaking them to Mundania. One Author's Note actually includes a character doing her service to the Good Magician by going through the pun credits.

  • Yes, Minister: The books are presented as being derived from the private tapes of Hacker, Appleby's memos released under the 30-year rule, and after-the-fact interviews with Woolley and minor characters. The "editors' notes" also act as a kind of Framing Device.

  • Walter Moers uses this for most of his Zamonia novels. The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear and The City of Dreaming Books are supposedly translations of autobiographies of the narrators. The setup of The Alchemaster's Apprentice is a bit more complicated: Walter Moers supposedly translated a book written by Hildegunst von Mythenmetz, which is a retelling of a story by Gofid Letterkerl. Actually it's a retelling of Spiegel, das Kätzchen by Gottfried Keller. (Mythenmetz and Letterkerl are fictional authors, Moers and Keller are/were real people; Letterkerl's name is, in fact, an anagram of Keller's.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: In the finale, we see Liz's great-granddaughter pitching a series based on the stories about 30 Rock she heard growing up. Presumably, the version of 30 Rock we've been watching is that series.
  • Played with in Department S and the spin-off Jason King. Jason King is the writer of adventures novels, who adapts his own adventures into his novels.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Terry Nation insisted that his Dalek Expanded Universe material had been translated by him from alien cubes that he'd found in his garden, with help from his friend David Whitaker. As Robert Shearman points out on the DVD special features, this was pretty absurd — Bill Strutton didn't claim that his Zarbi had been translated from alien cubes, and with no Doctor, the implication was that everything else was fun but only the Dalek stuff was real.
    • According to the unofficial publication I Am the Doctor: The Unauthorised Diaries of a Time Lord by John Peel, Ian and Barbara sold the story of their first two adventures with the Daleks to a film studio, as a way of warning people once they learnt the Daleks had been on Earth. This did not result in the TV series itself existing in the Whoniverse, but in the movies Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., fitting firmly into the "loose retelling" category.
  • The Game of Thrones finale evoked this trope by apparently revealing that Sam actually wrote A Song of Ice and Fire, the books on which the series is based. They're obviously not the same books though, because it's stated that Tyrion is not mentioned in them, so it's not much more than a wink to the viewers.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys:
    • Some episodes, such as "Yes Virginia, There is a Hercules", show an immortal Hercules having adopted the identity of an actor named Kevin Sorbo and playing himself in the show. Hercules also reveals that the show's creators have taken some liberties with retelling the myth. Apparently, killing off Iolaus (the original one) did not happen as Hercules remembers it. According to him, Iolaus lived to be an old man. And Hercules had to correct them... quite a bit. Ares also shows up, to get the show cancelled.
    • In the same universe, Xena: Warrior Princess is based on "The Xena Scrolls," as written by Gabrielle, and later found by an archaeological team in the 1930s who all happened to be Identical Grandchildren of the main cast. Joxer's counterpart left them to his equally Identical Grandson Ted Raimi, and the rest is history (well, it's as much history as anything in Xena is).
  • Jekyll: The show claims that Robert Louis Stevenson acted as a ghostwriter for the original Jekyll.
  • Once Upon a Time: Most of the great fairy tales we know actually happened, in realms parallel to our own. These realms are traveled by "authors" who are able to not only record stories but change details of them with magic ink, which are reflected in reality. Walt Disney was one of these authors; presumably so were The Brothers Grimm, J.M. Barrie, L. Frank Baum, etc. Most people believe these stories are made up, including the people who actually are Snow White, Prince Charming, Red Riding Hood, etc. but have been cursed and sent to the real world with new identities.
  • Rose Red: There was once a fake website purporting to belong to Joyce Reardon and Beaumont University, giving information about the Rose Red project and implying she was a real person. Similarly, the "Making Of" segment which aired on TV prior to the miniseries itself made use of actors to play the "real" Joyce and Steve, told the whole story of Rose Red as if it were real history, and included segments from real-life historians and Seattle public figures acting as if Rose Red were real. Finally, the Diary of Ellen Rimbauer itself, though ghost-written by Ridley Pearson (for a time hints within the text and cagey comments from people at Hyperion made fans think Tabitha King, Stephen's wife, was the writer), had no author indicated when published, instead having a foreword written by its supposed editor Joyce Reardon after the book was 'found' in an estate sale. All in all, a rather complex and well-done effort, if fairly obvious as a fake.
  • Supernatural:
    • The show has the Winchesters discover their lives are chronicled with remarkable accuracy in a series of pulpy novels. They track down the reclusive, alcoholic author, Chuck Shurley, who is shocked to discover his fictional creations are real and tells them he just wrote a Vonnegut-like scene in which he is confronted by his characters. Castiel soon appears and reveals the Chuck is a prophet and one day the books will be known as the Winchester Gospel. However, in the Season Finale of Season 5, it is heavily implied that Chuck is, in fact, God. This is confirmed in later seasons.
    • A Season 6 episode features Sam and Dean transported to an alternative universe where their lives are the storyline of a fictional television series starring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, pampered and vain actors whom they keep being mistaken for. They also meet, Misha Collins, the twitter-obsessed douchebag who plays Castiel. Collins tweeted throughout the episode's initial airing, the same exact tweets the show's version is seen writing.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): The season one finale involved a writer who could make characters come to life by describing them into a tape recorder, then disappear by burning the section of tape they're on. At the end of the episode, Rod Serling came on to assure viewers that the story was unequivocally false and that no such thing could happen: only for the author to protest and burn Serling's tape, implying that Serling, the agent, was fake, but the story was real. Two seconds later, however, Serling returns to complete the episode with his usual closing narration.

  • Peter Schickele is a professor at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, and is most famous for his work rediscovering and popularizing the music of P.D.Q. Bach, the least competent of Johan Sebastian Bach's many children. So he would claim, anyway.
  • According to the official biography Rise of the Ogre, Gorillaz's creators Jamie Hewlett (cartoonist) and Damon Albarn (voice actor) are, in-universe, the band's director and producer, respectively.
  • The fictional parochial newspaper featured in the artwork of the 1972 Jethro Tull Concept Album Thick as a Brick depicts the also-fictional child poet Gerald Bostock and the lyrics to his controversial poem, also called "Thick As A Brick", which allegedly Tull frontman Ian Anderson set music to for the album. Bostock is credited with writing the lyrics to the album in the liner notes. (In reality, of course, Anderson wrote both the music and lyrics to the album.)
  • Les Luthiers periodically "discover" and perform music by the fictitious composer Johann Sebastian Mastropiero.
  • An important part of the Major Lazer "mythology" is the fact that the two DJs who comprise it, Diplo and Switch, are only allies of the eponymous character, releasing his music under their own names to protect his identity.
  • Ugly Casanova initially maintained that their debut album Sharpen Your Teeth consisted of covers of songs by an eccentric musician/artist the band knew named Edgar E. Graham, who would sometimes call himself "Ugly Casanova" - Edgar had been coaxed to perform as an unannounced opening act for Modest Mouse a few times, but had recently disappeared entirely, and the album was made as an attempt to get him to come back and continue performing. Of course, Edgar was an alter-ego for Isaac Brock, who didn't want the side project to be compared to his other band and also didn't want to have to do interviews about the record.

  • Cool Kids Table: In Hogwarts: The New Class, almost everything from Harry Potter is real, and JK Rowling is a squib who wrote dramatizations of Harry's adventures. McGonagall was the one who recommended Dame Maggie Smith to play her in the films. More importantly, the players are all muggle-borns whose records were lost and who never got to develop their powers.

  • Towards the end of Dino Attack RPG, a writer named Samuel Piaker interviewed Dino Attack veterans so he could write a novel based on the Dino Attack. It is implied, of course, that the RPG you've just finished reading is the novel he wrote.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, the early 1990s Animated Adaptation, BattleTech: The Animated Series, is retconned into being a propaganda film produced by the Federated Commonwealth, depicting dramatized events that actually took place during the Clan Invasion. The main character of the cartoon went on to become a (noble) politician in the main series. Throughout the rest of the universe, almost all publications are written as In-Universe documents; the sourcebooks are military technology reports, scenario books are records of engagements, the novels are memoirs, and so on, which provides a convenient way to get around Continuity Snarls; either the in-universe author is wrong about dates and specifics, or the document was edited in secret by ComStar.
  • The Castle Falkenstein books are allegedly written by Tom Olam, an acquaintance of game publisher Mike Pondsmith who mysteriously vanished during a vacation in Europe; Olam sends documents to Pondsmith claiming to have been abducted to a Steampunk-plus-magic alternate world, in which he wrote the rules to the game using cards because the local nobility were scandalized at the thought of gaming with dice. Some of the books are written by Olam himself, while others are written by residents of New Europa.
  • C°ntinuum: roleplaying in The Yet: The rulebooks claim that the authors of the game received their information from the spanners (time travelers) whose adventures are the basis for the game. The Atlantean Councils believe that it will assist humanity in acclimating to the time-travelling civilization that they'll enter 224 years later.
  • The Dresden Files RPG is presented as Billy Borden's attempt to publish a guide on defending oneself from the supernatural world, disguised as an RPG rulebook so people would take it seriously. The margins are littered with notes (and discussions) from Billy, Harry Dresden, and Bob the Skull suggesting it's his rough draft even. It also refers to the novels as Harry's "casefiles", though there's no indication that they were published in-universe. Dresden Files Accelerated is similarly supposed to be written by the Archive Ivy as a more condensed dossier of the supernatural for a certain client implied to be Gentleman Jonny Marcone with commentary from her bodyguard Kincaid.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The 1983 World of Greyhawk supplement was sketchily presented as a D&D adaptation of a scholastic game written by a "Pluffet Smedger" inspired by another work ancient to him; the trope wasn't rigidly adhered to, though.
    • Material for the Forgotten Realms setting is often presented as having been personally rendered to writer Ed Greenwood by the wizard Elminster. The Volo's Guide series are written as in-universe travel guides later annotated (often grumpily) by Elminster.
    • Greenwood also penned the "The Wizards Three" articles for Dragon magazine, which presented new spells for the Dungeons & Dragons game as notes written from meetings between Elminster, Mordenkainen (from the Greyhawk setting), and Dalamar (from the Dragonlance setting)... in Greenwood's own home. With occasional comments on fan letters and newsgroups, from Elminster himself (and once even from Mordenkainen's apprentice).
      Elminster: And now, look ye, that rascal, rogue, and jackanapes Ed of the Greenwood's been at it again — passing on precious lore (words I spoke in confidence, mind ye) to folk at TSR, who've promptly published it for all to view. Has he no shame? (Pages from the Mages, introduction)
    • Dragon used to do this all the time. Fun Personified Marvel Comics character The Awesome Slapstick supposedly wrote his own Marvel Super Heroes RPG write-up, with the actual author claiming all he did was add "some semblance of grammar".
    • The information in Steven Schend's Forgotten Realms articles were usually claimed as coming from Laeral Silverhand or Khelben Blackstaff. On one occasion he was visited by one of the other Seven Sisters pretending to be Laeral.
    • Jeff Grubb's articles on the Mystara setting's Duchy of Karameikos likewise began by describing his visits from a halfling who claimed to be an expert on the area.
    • "Crude, But Effective", an article on goblinoid tactics by Derek Jensen, takes it to the point of self-parody part by claiming Jensen was told all this by a hobgoblin shaman, outraged by the idea that all they did was charge blindly and get slaughtered. The self-parody part? The shaman's name was Elmonster.
  • Houses of the Blooded: John Wick talks about the Ven as if they were real, even providing a bogus bibliography.
  • Hoyle's Rules of Dragon Poker: The introduction describes the legends surround the game's origins only in the context of explaining what nonsense it is. Then it goes on to reveal it was all true all along and chastises the reader for not believing it.
  • Nobilis
    • Since at least its second edition, the rulebooks have contained contributions and advice from Ianthe Falls-Short, a demigod of the same kind as the PCs. Third Edition has made this more blatant, with the sourcebook's narrator (a fictionalized version of its real author) indicating throughout that everything the book describes is real, with sources including Ianthe and Genseric Dace (an Excrucian - one of the game's antagonists).
    • The spinoff, Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, is just as dedicated to this conceit as Nobilis. The corebook is written as though Jenna Moran is a resident of Town after the death of the first Sun and the world drowning in the Outside, and the Fortitude setting book goes past this and is written as though she's welcoming you there yourself as a newcomer to Fortitude.
  • Star Fleet Battles. All of the information in the game is said to be taken from a transmission received by a U.S. Air Force base computer sometime before 1970. The transmission apparently came through a time warp from Starfleet Command 250 years in the future. This was inspired by the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" in which the U.S.S. Enterprise went back in time to 1960's Earth and some of the crew beamed down to a U.S. Air Force base. It's a carry-over from the Star Fleet Technical Manual, upon which the game is partially based.
  • Timemaster. Several sections of the rulebook were written "by" members of the Time Corps. Pacesetter also used this trope for the Star Ace and Chill rulebooks.

  • At the end of Ebenezer, Charles Dickens, upon learning the truth that Scrooge knew and didn't care about Marley's crimes, storms out in a disgusted rage. It's implied that the A Christmas Carol we know is what he deemed worthy to publish, omitting said events, as well as keeping Scrooge's love interest alive.

    Video Games 

  • The Beginner's Guide is narrated by its real-life creator Davey Wreden, who presents it as a compilation of games created by his friend Coda. However, messages by Coda near the end beg Davey to stop publishing his work. One could imagine that the release of The Beginner's Guide would not be helpful if the story was true. Also according to one message, Davey lied about the lampposts being a recurring element in Coda's work, having them put in there himself.
  • Lost Pig is supposedly by Grunk, the player character, "as told to" the game's programmer. The supporting material includes commentary by the programmer expressing his doubts about the accuracy of some of the details.
  • The first four Myst titles, along with the tie-in novels, are supposedly based (Tolkien-style) on translations of the character Catherine's journals. This is taken even further with Uru: Ages Beyond Myst and its MMORPG counterpart Myst Online: Uru Live, in which the D'ni cavern is portrayed as a real place — in New Mexico, of all places - being rediscovered by a team of expeditionary archaeologists funding their research by selling the rights to certain historical documents it uncovered to the game company Cyan, which used them as the basis for the Myst games.
  • At the denouement of Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper, it's strongly implied that Watson made up the "Hound of the Baskervilles" case, to cover up the fact that he and Holmes had actually been in London at the time, where they'd solved the Whitechapel murders. The in-game killer was Jewish, and Holmes knew that preventing an anti-Semitic bloodbath by outraged Londoners was more important than revealing the truth, so he had the man locked up in secret.
  • Sierra:
    • Peter Spear's hint books for the King's Quest and Space Quest series contain a link from Spear to some of the characters. The former around the idea that a journalist named Derek Karlavaegen had discovered ways to "e-mail" stories to Peter Spear, and the latter around the idea that Roger Wilco had written his memoirs and sent them back in time to Sierra, who turned them into the Space Quest games, and the raw memoirs were the novelizations that the book featured.
    • In Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon, Roger delivers in-game versions of the creators of the Space Quest games to Sierra on Earth, with whom they presumably go on to make... the Space Quest games.
    • The copy protection of King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow is also attributed to Derek Karlaveagen. It is basically a record of his travels in the Land of the Green Isles, including some clues to solve certain puzzles (they were impossible to solve without the booklet).
  • Tengai Makyou: Supposedly, the whole plot of the three main games and spin-offs is based on a book named Far East of Eden written by some American guy named Paul Hieronymus Chada and Hudson Soft themselves decided to adapt his book into a videogame and call it Tengai Makyou. Or more precisely, Ouji Hiroi (the creator) managed to get that book, translated it to Japanese somewhat and tried to tell the plot of the book somehow. How much of the content of that book was true, exaggerated by Chada (or Hiroi) or how the hell Chada got all these chronicles in the first place remains a mystery for everyone.
  • According to Ys Eternal's loading screen and the opening movie of Ys II Eternal, the games are actually 'novels' translated from Adol's own journals. This serves as a nice handwave for things like the blatant differences between Ys IV: Mask of the Sun and Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys. This conceit was carried forward into Ys: The Oath in Felghana, though oddly enough not into Ys SEVEN. Ys: Memories of Celceta picks it up again in the game's intro and in the companion "journal" that comes in the limited edition.

  • Achewood: There is a conceit that Onstad is just representing actual events, and shares a house with Téodor, Cornelius and Philippe. This has become less central to the comic as time goes on.
  • The storyteller from Girl Genius is all but stated to be Phil Foglio, and the series is him re-telling what he knows of Agatha's rise to power. Though he also admits in-story that he's been exposed to so many mind-altering chemicals and energies that he can't be sure exactly what happened. The novelization confirms that the Storyteller is supposed to be Phil Foglio.
  • Laugh Out Loud Cats: The comics were supposedly drawn in the 1900s, turned down by newspapers and spent a century in an attic until the artist's grand-grandson Adam Koford found them.
  • Namesake uses the idea that some people travel to parallel worlds and famous real-world authors are just writing the stories of those travelers.
  • Unsounded: Letters written by a researcher who found Duane's journal are inserted here and there, implying that the comic is (possibly) pieced together from his and other accounts.

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of Darkwing Duck had Darkwing accidentally travel to a parallel world in which there was a cartoon series based on him. He eventually learned that the creator of the cartoon had a piece of technology that allowed him to overhear the "real" Darkwing on his many adventures, and then adapted those adventures to a cartoon show. The episode ends with Darkwing having destroyed the device's connection to his world but instead, we hear from Chip and Dale on one of their own adventures.
  • Futurama deconstructs the concept in "Yo Leela Leela". Leela stumbles on a planet of cute creatures who all do funny things. She takes her experience and creates a children's television show out of it, which is very successful. However, when it's revealed that she was just getting her ideas from observing the creatures on said planet and not coming up with them herself, the production crew simply stops relying on her for new content, sets up shop on the planet itself, and re-markets the show as a reality series for kids.
  • Justice League:
    • There was an episode where the League travels to a different, Golden Age-like world featuring some villains and superheroes that resemble those of Green Lantern's favorite childhood series. After some initial confusion, Martian Manhunter posits the authors wrote under "some sort of psychic link to this world" unknowingly. After finding the graves of his heroes and hidden wreckage from war, he finds that the reason the series was canceled was that the bad guys won and most of the rest of the world is all just an illusion created by the villain. Inspired by the Flash story mentioned above under Comic Books, and its follow-ups.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's "Daring Don't": The episode reveals Daring Do and her adventures are real, with Daring herself writing under the penname A. K. Yearling. She makes some adjustments to the story, such as giving Rainbow Dash a baseball hat and bag.

Alternative Title(s): Recounted By The Main Characters