Tag Archive - Premise

Crafting a Compelling Story Premise

UPCOMING: I’m doing a workshop on crafting a terrific premise on January 11, 2-4 p.m. Pacific Time (it will be recorded, so you can watch it later if you can’t attend). Space is limited, so be sure to enroll ASAP. And bring your premise statement to share and get feedback on it! 

Below is a reprint of a post I wrote a few years back, published again here to help you understand what a premise is and why it’s so important to come up with one that is fresh and compelling!

Most writers are clear about the inciting incident or initial disturbance that has to come near the start of the book. Yet, I see way too many novels in which there really isn’t a strong impacting incident. Or it’s in the wrong place.

I recently did a fifty-page critique on a novel (which wasn’t the author’s first novel either) that had fifty pages of setup. Backstory. Telling all about how the characters met, fell in love, got married, etc. What was the stated premise? Basically, it told of a man who has something precious taken from him and must face danger and horror to get that thing back. Huh? What did the first fifty pages have to do with any of that? Nothing. Continue Reading…

2 Key Factors in Successfully Outlining Stories

Today’s guest post is by Andrea Turrentine.

If you intend to write a novel, I can tell you most publishers may ask you for an outline and a few chapters.

Outlining may be unavoidable, especially for new writers.

It is also pointless to debate the efficacy of outlining because no doubt most of the best pros do it.

Atwood. Rowling. Martin. Patterson. Gaiman. Sorkin. Rhimes (She doesn’t need to now but teaches her students how she did so when she started out).

If it works, it works. That’s right. I’m taking a hard stance.

What we are going to look at is about outlining in practice. So, while devout pantsers may wish to leave, don’t! I may yet convert you. Continue Reading…

Writing Scenes with a Purpose

I know this may sound silly and obvious, but your scenes need to have a purpose. Thing is, so many scenes that I edit and critique seem purposeless. Or the purpose is irrelevant to the premise. Or to the plot. Or doesn’t help reveal anything of importance about the characters.

I remember Donald Maass talking at his weeklong breakout novel workshop about this. He said something like, “You can’t imagine how many middle scenes I’ve read in novels that accomplish nothing.”

Same idea. Your scene shouldn’t just be entertaining or tense or exciting to read; it has to serve a specific purpose in light of your overall plot and premise. Every scene.

So how do you go about this?

Well, first thing: plot our your story, and make sure you have a riveting, fresh premise. If your premise is boring and predictable, it’s going to be hard to write a story that’s not boring and predictable. Continue Reading…

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