HOW TO USE A PREMISE TO CREATE ANY STORY
The first step to getting a premise is admitting that you don’t have a premise. Once we recognize this, then we can work from here. We need to be able to conjure up something though. There has to be a way. One Worder describes the idea of developing a premise from a basic level, but I’d like to go beyond that.
Coming up with a premise can be as simple as thinking of a phrase that you want to investigate. Your premise is your narrative thesis that you want to fictionally prove to be true.
So what does that mean? In an essay, you may want to prove the thesis kids need to obey their parents. You have several reasons mapped out explaining why this is true, and then you have a conclusion recapping those events.
Fictional premises are similar. Let’s take the same premise: Kids need to obey their parents. That’s our “thesis” that we need to subtlety prove. We don’t need to come out and say, “Hey everyone, I just thought you’d like to know that kids should obey their parents.” However, our goal should be to show the consequences of parental disobedience through the experiences of our characters.
1. Mother tells 15 year-old Samantha never to go to NY alone at night.
2. 15 year-old Samantha goes to NY alone at.
3. 15 year-old Samantha gets captured by sex traffickers.
Wow…rough story, and I feel sad even writing it. But see how our premise is spread out over these scenes. We are proving the point that disobedience to parents can lead to trouble, and one of those troubles is getting wrapped up in sex traffic. Is it likely in real life? No. Could it happen in real life? Yes. The answer to the second question is what gives our stories their plausibility. And plausibility, my friends, is a writer’s ticket for the 10am to Novel-dom.
So how can we use this premise to create a climax? Samantha is no longer with her mother, so how can Samantha disobey her mother? Here’s where writing gets exciting. Maybe there was something else that her mother always told her. Something like, “If a man tells you he loves you, you can get him to do anything for you.” Now say Samantha meets someone in the “underground” world who tells her that he loves her — even though he thinks that he is going to get what he wants. Samantha can now use this man’s confession to manipulate her escape while at the same time she is obeying something that her mother said.
The point is proven! Disobey and you get in trouble. Obey and you find safety. If done well, this could be an intense story that grips the reader.