1. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    How To Develop A Premise?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by isaac223, Jul 1, 2016.

    I typically try 2 methods in order to cure my Writer's Block:

    1: Write a book/story of a premise simpler than what I normally write.
    2: Writing with absolutely no premise.

    Both of these are used to loosen myself up, reminiscent to a warm-up exercise, so that ideas will start flowing easier so to begin writing coherent plots for the other works or simply to finish something else. Additionally, these methods can potentially turn into a relatively original or interesting premise.

    Well, my question is, while utilizing the former, if I am unable to think of much for a premise and I only have a single or very few sentences or words describing it, how do I best go about developing it?

    As an example, this is the description of the premise I have so far:

    In a turn on social segregation, there are humans who can be born into this medieval-esque world with characteristics that define them as "broken," and being such causes the person who is "broken" to be subjected by many to abuse and/or separated from even their parents. These "broken" humans are only accepted while acting as servants for the "normal" people, or, as it is said to them, "You are only able to be forgiven while being useful to someone else."

    ...

    Okay, it is not wholly original in the slightest. In fact, its quite typical. My plans are to make this a magic-heavy world and to make it relevant to the "broken" humans in certain ways that can hopefully make the plot stand out more.

    The problem is even while utilizing my aforementioned exercise methods I find it hard to think of ways to develop the premise at all and when I start writing I lose myself in frustration of being unable to let anything come to me. What exactly would be the best way to go about developing a premise for a novel/story?
     
  2. mashers
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    mashers Senior Member

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    Maybe consider the ways in which the premise reflects the real world, and draw on that for inspiration. In the example you have given, you could look in to examples of discrimination and abuse of people with disabilities. Looking back through institutionalisation or even demonisation of people with disabilities might give you some ideas. Then you need a protagonist who sees the injustice in what is happening and sets out to change it.
     
  3. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    Well, while that does help with one part of it it also leaves how I am unable to think of a way to incorporate a form of relevant magic into the world -- in an attempt to create a connection with a fantastical universe and, like I have previously intended, real life-esque discrimination and segregation. Typically, I just wait until I get inspiration from outside sources though I don't wish to have to wait for that in order to continue developing the premise. I also can't seem to think of a characteristic of these "broken" humans that would define them as such or even what the specifics of what that would mean. And so, that aspect of the premise is still stuck at stage one and I don't think I can look at real-world examples for themes that would be fantastical, can I?
     
  4. mashers
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    mashers Senior Member

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    Well you've said that magic is an important characteristic of your universe, so combining this with the idea of disability, perhaps the 'broken' people are those who were born without magic? They are looked down on and oppressed by the magic-bearing population, and in order to overcome this they either have to find a way of gaining the same powers, or use other methods to overturn their oppressors, or change their hearts and minds to see them as equals. This would certainly reflect the experience of many communities of disabled people as well as other minorities.

    You can definitely use real world examples to draw inspiration. But if you incorporate them directly then the novel would be something completely different. You have to translate the concepts to fit within the universe you are creating.
     
  5. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    The high-concept part of the novel is always the backdrop/setting for the personal-level story that takes place within it. In other words, your story takes place in a world where broken people aren't full citizens in a magic setting. But this is just the setup, and the actual heart of the story must follow the character's human journey.

    As others have said, the system could reflect on issues in our world today. Also, what will the character's individual journey be? Is it a coming-of-age about a "broken" person who bucks the system and decides that their worth isn't dependent on being a servant, and that they want to pursue a different life than what's expected? Or is it about an older person who's been a servant for years, and decide they want something more? Or a love story where a "broken" person and a regular/privileged person fall in love and then have to deal with a system where their love is vilified?

    You've got the concept part fleshed out well. Now you just have to focus on the human part, which is what will ultimately steer the story. :)

    As a metaphor: the system/concept/plot (the magic world and "broken" stuff) is like the spine, and the human interest part is like the flesh and organs that the spine supports.
     
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  6. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    I thank all of you for not only telling me from whence I should look for inspiration as to how to develop the premise, but also for contributing your ideas and for telling me to whence I should continue working next. You all helped a great deal. Thank you.
     
  7. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    For me, what seems to work best is too mainly develop the best themes from your premise, and try to build your character's decisions with those themes in mind. Then those character decisions will carry the theme, and develop the plot, if that makes sense.
     
  8. Wexeldorf
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    Wexeldorf Member

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    Building on mashers' idea, it might be worth reading the "Powerless" series of books by Jason Letts. It's based in a fantasy setting where everyone is born with a super power except the protagonist. It focuses on her journey to thrive and survive in an environment beset by power wielding forces, both good and bad, overcoming evil, and finding her place in a world as an outsider, viewed as a freak of nature.
     
  9. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    "Series."

    You mean there were more books after the first one? I loved Powerless.
     
  10. isaac223
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    isaac223 Member

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    Oh, I was thinking of the wrong Powerless. My bad, I was thinking of the one by Matthew Cody. Its one of the few novels I was to read in school that I legitimately enjoyed despite the relatively low reading level of the book. It... has essentially the same premise though it came off as more mystery than action if memory serves me well. I'll be sure to check it out, though, thank you.

    And...

    And thank you both. It did make sense Ryan. Basically, let themes drive characters drive plot? I'll put that one to work in this or one of my other 2 projects and see how it works for me. Thank you.
     
  11. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Yeah I mean, I am not that experienced yet, but it's what I read from a book on writing -- The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. So I am going by that, but when I think of other stories, it seems that that's how it's done, when breaking it down.
     
  12. Wexeldorf
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    Wexeldorf Member

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    Yes Isaac, 5 books in total
     
  13. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well this is what I read in John Truby's The Anatomy of Story, and it seems right to a large extent when I think about fiction. But a couple of other aspiring writers like myself disagreed with me, saying that characters should be created first, and they should drive plot, which will drive the theme.

    But this seems backwards to me, cause how do you know who your characters are, if you do not have a theme for them to develop towards in the first place?
     
  14. mashers
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    mashers Senior Member

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    I'm getting to know my characters gradually. I have a broad idea about who they are, but their personalities are being revealed to me gradually as the story progresses.
     

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