As the gulf of time widens between the present and the time I finished reading the Hyperion Cantos, the one aspect of the epic work that is the clearest in my mind is the structure.
Taking a cue from the Canterbury Tales, Hyperion makes extensive use of a frame narrative. The pilgrims journeying to the Tombs of Time is a good story in and of itself but the pilgrims' nightly tales are what really sold me on the story. The main story doesn't do a whole lot of world-building. It's primarily a journey. It's the individual tales that flesh out the world.
"So what does this have to do with anything?" you ask.
Nothing definite but I've been wanting to use a similar structure for six months now. I've thrown some ideas around, starting while I was still reading Hyperion. While I'm still leaning toward a much simpler crime story for NaNoWriMo, here are a couple of my ideas about using a structure similar to Hyperion.
The Basilisk of Dragonmouth Pass:
Trade is disrupted when a basilisk choses an important mountain pass to nest in. Seven adventurers meet at an inn near the mouth of the pass and resolve to take on the basilisk together. As they journey through the pass, they reveal their individual stories. Too bad one of them is a liar and has been in league with the basilisk all along and is leading his fellow adventurers to the slaughter...
The Clockwork Assassin:
The Prime Minister is a marked man and summons the seven finest agents the secret service has to offer to protect him on a monorail journey while the troublemakers are ferreted out and disposed of. Only he may be clutching a viper to his breast in the form of a deadly Clockwork Assassin...