DRAMA QUEEN

HOW TO USE PREMISE TO CREATE CONFLICT

The premise is essential to the story. Without it, the conflict is not maximized. The “good vs. evil” effect is moved out of the way and replaced by the mediocre.

Consider this premise: Women should be treated like queens. If the story goes along and everyone is treated like a queen, that gets the job done, but no one will read the story. You would have been better off wasting your time playing video games or doing something else rather than taking the time to write a novel.

We understand things better if we can see why they’re wrong. Isn’t that true? Here’s an example — a writing one.

FACT: It’s important to clarify your pronouns.

LESSON: When Susan, Vanessa, Stacy, and Charlotte were in the bathroom putting on make-up, her lipstick fell out of her hand. The girl picked it up for her. She laughed at what she had done.

Who did what? Some of you may not have been able to finish reading because of the confusion. But now you see that the wrong way makes the right way more clear.

That’s what we’re doing with a premise-conflict scenario. If we want to show that “Women should be treated like queens,” we’d be better off showing why they should not be treated like scum.

Here are two openers to a novel. Which one gives us more obstacles to overcome in demonstrating our premise?

WATCH:
1) Jason held her hand in the moonlight. He moved in slowly for a kiss, keeping his eyes closed to savor the sensation.

2) Jason stumbled into the house late. He was drunk, as usual. I wondered where he’d been at 3 o’clock in the morning, but I didn’t dare ask. My face couldn’t endure another beating.

We probably all like 1 better. I know I do. But for a novel, line 2 is where we need to start. Before we read any further, we already wanna’ say: “Gurl! You betta’ leave ‘dat man alone!”

In four sentences we have set the hook in the jaw of our oversized catch: the reader. Who would ever want to put your book down?

Line 1 isn’t bad. It just doesn’t promote our conflict. However, line 1 could work if we found out that the guy had just kissed another girl three hours before. Doesn’t that conflict directly point to initialize our premise?

Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it, and I look forward to connecting with you tomorrow.

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7 thoughts on “DRAMA QUEEN

  1. rich

    it’s like a math class. we learn more from the examples that we get wrong. the ones we get right, we don’t pay as much attention – because they’re already right. it’s the wrong things that get attention so we can learn to get them right.

    Reply
  2. mariathermann

    I loved the bit about the pronouns – so often we read something and it’s total confusion because the writer didn’t bother to make clear who did or said what to whom.

    Yes, we could start a book with line 2), move to line 3) where the woman gets rid off that nasty toad of a man and then we go back to line 1) where she’s found somebody new who’s nice and cuddly:)

    Reply

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