How to find the Secret meaning in a story.
Your Story and its meaning is important to you as a writer.
Stories that have no premise have no coherent idea of where they are going to.
The authors who wrote those stories didn’t understand a simple secret of finding the Premise in their story.
I used to just write stories hoping that something would happen like it would magically begin to have a meaning to the reader, of course, as you can guess, it led to me writing very flat and confusing stories that nobody wanted to read. I didn’t even want to read them after finishing.
There are all types of stories in the world and many are very good and a hell of a lot of them are bad.
The very good ones have a premise and the bad ones have no premise, or at least, a confused premise that makes the reader ask questions that have no relation to the story.
When I discovered that I could find a premise without spending days or weeks thinking about it, I was thrilled.
I could plan a story, state the premise in writing and then to add power to that I discovered that the premise gave me a guiding path that I followed throughout the story – no more feelings of what to write next.
A premise. What is it?
Very simply stated it is an expression of what happens if a person (your protagonist) follows a certain path of action that can only lead to one outcome.
A Premise is not a concept. Concepts are devices that writers use to beef up the action or write a story from a new angle. Nothing wrong with concept, many readers enjoy an old story with a new twist.
“Powerful Love overcomes Death” is a premise.
Can you think of a famous story with this premise? How about “Romeo and Juliet” ?
“Hubris comes before the Fall”
“Crime doesn’t pay”
“Foolish generosity leads to Poverty”
The above are all premises. They express an idea that can be written about and carried through by your characters. They lead to something answered in the story. Having a premise in your story and finding it before or shortly after starting work will make writing the story much easier. It is not necessary to have a premise before starting but you should stop work every so often and think about – it will come to you.
I spent four years writing a novel that never had an end. It went on and on. I was sure that I would recognise the end when it came, but it didn’t show up for me. That’s a bad way to write a novel. I learned a lot about writing long stories in those years.
I shelved it and carried on with new ideas for stories. I was careful to be sure that I knew how my stories would end. As I did this, it hit me that what I was doing was finding the premise to write about.
Remember this, when you find your premise your characters must express ideas and actions that allow them to execute the idea of the premise without being fake or untrue to their own deeper characters.
You need to know your characters and understand what they would really do and how they would act in any situation. Those acts must be true or else your story will seem forced and weakened by the author intrusions into character actions.
Author intrusion is when you make a character do something because it will help the story go in a certain direction, the character though, would never do such a thing. The astute reader will screw up her nose and throw the book across the room.
When you formulate the expression of your premise be sure to get the equation right;
Activity/emotions – leads to – Something/ situation.
A person writes everyday – it leads to – them finishing a novel.
A premise can be positive or negative.