In a book I'm writing, I want to write a chapter involving a main character being a conspiracy theory podcaster.

How can I format this into a writing idea?

My plan was to include a fake advertisement for the start and move on to a talk with a special guest who saw something they weren't supposed to see. They got it on camera and shared it with the content creator. What I would like to know is if there is a possible way to have this played out in writing (video included.)

  • Not clear what you are asking. It seems like you want to describe the contents of a video. Sure, you can do that.
    – Boba Fit
    Apr 11 at 14:45

2 Answers 2


I think a podcast captured in a piece of fiction would fit within the concept of epistolary form -- like the letters in Dracula. I've seen similar stuff in fiction, like a transcription of a television program with attributions of who the speaker was and some limited amount of physical action -- the equivalent what is found in a descriptive audio service used by visually impair viewers of movies and TV.

For your manuscript, to the best I can figure out there are no industry standards for epistolary writing. The only rules I've gleaned are pick a method -- change font, indent the text, use italics, whatever -- then use it consistently.

Myself, I'd use something looking like the format used for screen play: character name then a colon then their dialogue. I'd also add something to put the transcription in context -- recorded off pirate radio or transcription of Bilbo's podcast 1/11/2023.

What you've likely seen in novels and short stories containing fragments of "epistolary" text are determined by the publisher as part of typesetting. As the author, that is not any of your concern. You don't need to make it look like a letter, an advert; you just need to demark it as distinct from your narrative text. For example this is a page from Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald"

enter image description here

As the writers, our manuscripts don't need to look like this. We provide the idea and the description and the typesetter will work with graphic artists to produce the layout. So pick something a format that you hate the least and be consistent.

Worrying about formatting issues -- aside from complying with the standard manuscript (double line spacing, twelve-pitch new times roman font, etc -- is a good way to waste your time as a writer. Focus on making your story the best story you can write and don't worry about things that are in the province of the publisher.


So my first question would be who is our POV in this scene? Are we the listener? The Host? The Guest? How do you want the audience to interpret the series? Should we take what they say as true? Should we see them as nuts? Should we see them as viewing something that is real, but coming to the wrong conclusion (Yes, in story the footage of the UFO really is an alien space ship. However the occupants look like humans and are pacifistic but the show is claiming they are shapeshifting reptilians hell bent on destroying all humans from within and they live in the center of the earth in Atlantis... and in their next segment, they will prove that Elvis is not only alive killed Tupac and Biggie because they were about to reveal that The King was really a vampire all along.).

I would also advise you look at some real life podcasts that run on this, as there are podcasts that look at the things that fuel these conspiracies from both the Mulder and the Scully side of the issues (Mulder is a believer, Scully is a Sceptic). I would also make sure to make your host a bit of a blend of a few famous hosts so as to not look one sided (The start with an advertisement hit me as "Okay, he's going for an Alex Jones parody" but as someone who listens to the shows more geared at unexplained phenomena rather than political conspiracy theories, I also thought about Art Bell and Coast to Coast AM who was a bit more well regarded and was quite popular among radio listeners working the graveyard shift in the 90s-00s.).

How is the show formatted? Is it host and guest interview? Is it a talk show (Host may have a segment with the guest, followed by call in questions from the audience.). Is it a livestream with super chats (similar to talk show, but popular on YouTube and other streaming platforms. Host does the show live and talks with guests and plays clips if set up. Fans watching it live can comment and include a money donation that incentivizes the host to read out loud and respond to (often host will give a minimum value to donate for a read guarantee.).

This will inform how to write as if you're POV is on the show either as host, guest, or producer or sound guy, they will be privy to the host and guests' off air comments which may be different from their on air personas (it's not uncommon for the Host to develop his on air persona in a way that is completely different from his off air persona. Rush Limbaugh's on-air host persona was noticeably a lot different than his private life persona and he was a lot more agreeable if you talked to him in private (he was at least a good sport when his show was being mocked, having lent his voice to characters on the Simpsons and Family Guy that were intended to mock him.). Reportedly Alex Jones is similarly not like his on-air persona when he's not working. Remember, that these shows are all entertainment first and foremost, and keeping those listeners tuned in is all that matters. If they're coming to see your over-the-top moments, give it to them.

I would also recommend giving the advertisement as the scene ends as a way to "world build" and make it seem like this is a real show, but like everyone else, no one pays attention to the adds. Look at how the MCU handled J. Jonah Jamerson (he was clearly meant to be playing an Alex Jones type, though keep in mind, most depictions of Jamerson will make his journalism sin be that of mixing fact-based reporting with editorial opinion. Jamerson is still a consummate professional who reports facts. His saving grace is that while he has a low opinion of Spider-man, he does not slander (or libel) him for that matter. He just does not trust Spider-man often due to him wearing a mask, which is valid, and that may color the way he words his reporting. If Spidey was to walk on water, Jamerson would report that the web-head could not swim... but he'd never report that Spidey fell into the river.

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