Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Write Stuff - The Power of Premise

Next workshop from the Write Stuff: The Power of Premise with James Frey.

An example of a premise: Love leads to insanity (through a chain of causal events [jealousy]) - Othello's premise

Drunken slob leads to religious enlightenment (drunk, lose job, lose family and kids, get divorced, attempt suicide, seeks help, AA, finds religion)

Honesty leads to ruin.

Premise is not a moral.

Irony: man drowns wife, collects insurance money, buys a boat, goes out sailing and drowns.

Knowing your premise is a tyrant (because it helps you to focus on what scenes you need and don't need)

Elements of a dramatic story:

- Dramatic Character

Theatrical, extreme of type.
Active, determined.
Governed by a ruling passion (which can change throughout the story)

- Dramatic Struggle

High stakes
Don't have to be life or death
Honor, marriage, love

-Dramatic transformation

Never have a static character.

All transforming characters have a premise.

Alcoholism destroys love - plot premise
He triumphs alcoholism (MMC premise)
She doesn't. (FMC premise) (An example of a character with a changing ruling passion: first love of husband, then love of alcohol, he gets her into drinking)

Next blog post will be about How to Write Damn Good Prose (again from James Frey)


Aubrie said...

Great post! I make my premise be a moral or else it doesn't make sense to me to write about that. Maybe I'm just a prude. :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

I think most premises are morals, they just don't have to be. Then again, premise isn't that different from theme either so they all tie together.