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  1. Rooinl Wazlib

    Rooinl Wazlib New Member

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    Premise, Premise, Premise

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Rooinl Wazlib, Mar 5, 2021.

    I hope this goes here....

    So I'm trying to figure out how to word the dreaded Premise and all sources of information say totally different things.

    I'm writing a series and came up with a great premise for it :-

    A were-phoenix gains an alliance with a Demi-God in order to find her sister; a grim-reaper who’s just been commissioned to eliminate him.

    :- but that is for the series as a whole and while its important to the inciting incident in the first book, the first book is more like :-

    A were-phoenix is thrust into the world of a Demi-God and now she must fight a woman with mind control powers who has locked up her friend in a zoo of magical creatures before she can go home to look for her missing sister.

    :- but this to me doesn't sound as strong, or what a Premise should be. I'm so confused.

    Thanks for the help guys.
     
  2. alw86

    alw86 Active Member

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    Unless you're at the point of submission, I wouldn't even be thinking about it yet. Write and edit the book first, and you'll likely find that the answer becomes obvious to you along the way.
     
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  3. jpoelma13

    jpoelma13 Member

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    This sounds like it could be a perfectly good premise for a story. There's no reason to ignore it or write it out of the story. I however have not read the story. Why specifically do you feel like your premise isn't strong enough?
     
  4. Rooinl Wazlib

    Rooinl Wazlib New Member

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    Thankyou :)

    the fight with the zoo lady is the main fight/bulk of the first story, but before that happens she goes on a journey with the demi god to search for his wife and falls in love with him. So i don't know if that should be the premise.

    Also i don't know the exact information that should be in a premise - like setting? or if my goal needs to be related to the main conflixt.
     
  5. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    The premise is something you put in a query letter to briefly explain the story to prospective publishers—you can't really write one until the story is done and fully edited. A story has a funny way of mutating as you're developing it, and the ideas you had going in may or may not make it into the actual story.

    Here's a pretty decent article with some good info about how to figure out what your story's premise is: How to Ensure Your Story Has a Strong Premise

    Note they don't say you start with a premise, you start by asking questions and a theme, or maybe several, develops during the writing process.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Agree +1. Nothing to worry about until the book is completed.

    The term "premise" is kind of a general, all-encompassing word, and not really an industry term. There are things like log lines, elevator pitches, blurbs, queries, and synopsises that fall under the umbrella of premise but have more specific functions/rules. None of which you really need to sweat until you have a finished product. Otherwise, there's nothing to describe yet.
     
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  7. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    If you feel the need to have something like a premise to guide you as you work, feel absolutely free to use what you've got above as a tentative premise if you want, but keep in mind that the story needs to follow whatever twists and turns suggest themselves as you write, so the premise itself will change to reflect that. It should get stronger as you go (not necessarily in a straight upward line, but with zigs and zags in it) and when you finish the story you'll be able to write up the final premise to put in a query letter.
     
  8. Rooinl Wazlib

    Rooinl Wazlib New Member

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    Thankyou Everyone.

    Well that makes me feel a bit better. :) I'll leave it for now and work on it when my story is complete.

    Thanks for all your input and help :)
     
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  9. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    I was in the exact same position as you when I was fourteen and very novice. Here is the advice I was given and maybe it'll help you.

    So obviously I was not a published writer with a patient fanbase that would read through an ok book just to get to the exciting one. I was telling a woman on the writing forum my idea and she said it sounded very original and engaging. I then said, well, that's the second novel. Then I told her the first one. She wasn't so impressed. She advised me to put all my eggs in one basket. Take all the amazing ideas from the series and combined them into one amazing novel.


    A were-phoenix gains an alliance with a Demi-God in order to find her sister; a grim-reaper who’s just been commissioned to eliminate him.
    That should be your first novel. Because, as you said, the idea for the first book is lacking compared to the series premise.

    The second premise should perhaps be the opening of that one book. The steps she must take to find her sister. But the book should be a stand alone for now focusing on the sister.

    This is because should the book be published and it doesn't do well there will be no series. There will be no adventure of her to find her sister and the story wont be complete and so unsatisfying to those who read it. As a new writer and someone attempting to be published the first book in a planned series is best treated like a stand alone book but with series potential. No one wants read an ok book just to get to the epic one. Of course, if this is just being written for your own interest and experience, how you write and arrange it makes no difference. If no one will really read it but you and maybe a few close people in your life, what you write doesn't matter.

    I hope this helped you.
     
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  10. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Comparativist Contributor

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    For my latest WIP I've tried using a slightly modified version of the "snowflake" method. Google it if you want the details, but the gist is that before you write any actual drafts, you write just a one-sentence description of your story. The way I've conceived of it, that ends up looking an awful lot like a premise. You then take that one sentence and expand it into a one-paragraph description, then one page, and so on.

    It's worked well for me so far, although I should caveat that by saying I'm still not far into my first real draft. But I do feel much more confident that this will be something usable when it's finished, and the actual writing is going much more quickly.

    That's the sort of thing that might work if you are of the planner inclination, which I suppose I am (although I have trouble admitting it). If you are more of a pantser type I think the advice above to not worry about a premise is more useful.
     
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  11. Rooinl Wazlib

    Rooinl Wazlib New Member

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    @cosmic lights - thank you for your response. it has helped me see that i should focus more on the sister in the first book. I agree to with putting all your eggs in one basket - that is some good advice. I am writing to get published, so i will be making the sister the focus - however i write for me first and foremost. So I'll rethink the outline and see where it leads me. Thankyou :)

    @Robert Musil - i have heard of that technique before, and it isn't for me yet, but maybe I'll give it a go again one of these days. I'm definitely a planner, haha.
     
  12. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I just remembered Robert McKee does talk about Premise as something to help you focus your story. I mean, not just as something to put in a query letter, but to help shape the story and find the core of it. If I remember right it's a single sentence that boils down the core theme of the story.

    If this is the kind of premise you're talking about, you'd want to concentrate on the main character's flaw or weakness, and on how they need to change by the end of the story. What you've got above reads like a simple summary of events that happen, it needs to be powerful and poignant and embody the core struggle the character must face.

    As an example, here's one I came up with a while back (can't believe I did this, and completely forgot it was called a premise! :p):

    Others, if approached with respect, can become allies, but if confronted with fear or aggression will destroy you.

    But it's still something you would keep working on and refining as the story grows and develops. I didn't have mine worked out this well until a good ways into the story.
     

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