Wit 'n Wisdom of Janice LaQuiere

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

WTBN Chapter 2 - The Premise

Not all novel premises are breakout material. A writer needs to know when to discard a weak premise.

1. Name your top three favorite novels - Write down their titles.

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

The Lady's Confession - Geo. MacDonald

The Man from Montana - Grace Livingston Hill

A breakout novel takes us "away". It provides a new experience, and is an expression of our deepest desires, our secret hopes. Characters are larger than life.

Premise: A spurned wife's refusal to grant her husband a divorce ensnares her in a sinister human-trafficking operation. Her vow to remain loyal is tested when her husband's unholy union produces a child she must love as her own.

Q. What am I trying to communicate? Message? Passion?

A. To not give up

A. You are in charge of how you behave.

A. You don't have to follow the same road others have.

A. A successful life is a spiritual matter, and isn't based on physical conditions.

A. Difficult decisions means walking into difficult circumstances and going up against popular opinion.

Judge the premise on

1. Plausibility
2. Inherent conflict (struggle between husband and wife)
3. originality (new angle: internet affair, leads a couple into money laundering and the darker world of human trafficking)
4. gut emotional appeal

Throughout the story, create inherent conflict and emotional appeal wherever possible.

Breakout Checklist (chapter summary):

1. A breakout premise can be built.

2. Your favorite novels sweep you away, have characters you can't forget, and involve dramatic and meaningful events.

3. Plausibility means that the story could happen to any of us.

4. Inherent conflict means problems in your "place".

5. Originality can be new angles on old stories, the opposite of what we expect or story elements in unexpected combinations.

6. Gut emotional appeal springs from the emotional situations that grab us in life.

7. Even an unlikely starting point can be built into a breakout premise.

9. To brainstorm a breakout premise, steer away from the obvious, seek inherent conflict, find gut emotional appeal and ask, "What if...?"


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