Friday, February 24, 2006

What Its Premise Does for Your Story

The story questions a novel poses make readers follow the plot of a story like bloodhounds follow a scent. They want the answers to those questions, and they get impatient with distractions. Consequently, they quickly lose interest in anything that doesn't contribute to proving the story's premise.

Your premise, then, is a tool to keep you in control of the story and your reader engaged.

What a premise does for your story:
  • It focuses the story.
  • It keeps the story tight, keeps it from getting bloated.
  • It gives the story dramatic impact.
  • It makes the story hold readers to the end.
  • A premise also serves as a test for (a) every plot complication, to see whether it's superfluous or necessary or at least contributes to proving the premise and (b) the entire story, to see whether it's whole (by whether the actions of the story prove its premise).

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