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Developing a premise -

Anatomy of a Premise

Functions of a premise:

A. It is the foundation of idea – an intriguing idea, a what-if scenario or justaposition of two disparate notions fused together.
B. Defines what’s at stake.
C. States what the story is about.
D. States what the protagonist will have to overcome to achieve his/her goal.
E. Highlights the main character, the story problem and hints at the goal or resolution.
F. Defines what the protagonist wants.
G Premise is about a character and a problem.

1. Focus your premise on the main story goal.
2. Don’t overload your premise and keep it tight.
3. Define your character, what’s at stake, and the resolution.

Core Structure of Your Story

• Character – Who is your Protagonist:

• Constriction – What is his/her problem and what triggers it that forces him/her to move from where the story starts toward a new path of action (adventure):

• Desire – What tangible does the protagonist want really bad:

• Focal Relationship – Who is your protagonist talking with throughout the story? What relationship is the forces of the protagonist’s attention? This relationship will be the engine that drives most of the drama in your story.

• Resistance – More than internal constriction, there is also a sense of serious, external pushback. Something opposes the goal seeking of the protagonist, and this force creates dramatic friction. This is the central opposition and he/she is bent on stopping the protagonist from fulfillment. Who is this opposing force?

• Adventure/Chaos – Entropy is the tendency of all things to move toward disorder and Chaos. This the adventure and often occurs in the middle of the story.

• Change – You may not see the exact end of your story, but you can assume your protagonist will not end up where he/she began. Does your protagonist evolve or devolve?

Take the first two components of the core structure and combine them into a “when” clause.
The when clause is asking, “When something happens…” what is the something?”

Clause # 1: When clause

This clause captures the sense a tangible want and defines the relationships involved, especially the core relationship (if any) that drives the middle of the story. Now is the time to give a clearer idea of what the character wants and who is moving through the story with/her. This should also give a sense of the motivation for the desire.

Clause 2: Character Acts Clause:
Focal relation:
Character acts:

The next two components combine to give a clear statement about the opposing force acting to upset the story’s trajectory.

Clause # 3: Until clause:

Leading to denouement – an evolutionary change for the protagonist.

Clause # 4: Leading to clause:
Leading to:
Finally the writer expresses the change that is at the end of all disorder and chaos, as well as the change that is personal to the character from the “when” clause.

Premise Line as a Sentence:



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