There is a crucial part of writing a novel besides character creation and narrative techniques. It is about the premise.
The premise is a fundamental element of the narrative that should not be overlooked because it represents the compass that guides the narration for the writers.
Let us see what it is about in detail.
What is the premise?
In simple terms, the premise contains the entire novel in just one sentence: conflict and its resolution. The premise is your guide when you write your book: the conclusion must start from conflict.
It is the soul of the story. It is the premise we give ourselves in working out the different scenes, not something the reader/viewer knows beforehand. A common thread of the story to design it better.
How to write the premise?
The greatest difficulty in creating a premise lies in understanding that it is impossible to notice where the premise ends and where stories and characters begin in a well-written story.
No one part must override the others; the whole must blend harmonically.
The premise must be honest, transparent, and forthright.
The premise should be formulated with the “Theme-Conflict-Result” structure. It is essential that the premise be expressed with a cause-and-effect formula and should be constructed according to these three elements, of which the first should suggest the protagonist (i.e., something inherent in his fatal flaw or winning endowment), the second should present a possible conflict, and the third should tell us the outcome.
Premise: some examples
Let us give some well-known examples to understand the premise better.
Let us think of “The Godfather“, a film by Francis Ford Coppola. The film’s premise is “The Godfather: Loyalty to one’s family leads to a life of crime.“
On the other hand, Romeo and Juliet’s premise is “Romeo and Juliet: great love conquers even death.“
While again, to stay with Shakespeare, Macbeth‘s premise is “ruthless ambition leads to self-destruction.”
Moral of the story and premise: What is the difference?
The premise is not something rationally provable, but it is what the author will argue implicitly throughout the story.
That is why the premise must be something you believe in or have believed in the past long enough to be full of ideas, situations, reflections, and nuances to deal with so that it flows naturally from you.
The moral is what a story might teach us.
The narrative premise, on the other hand, is what the writer wants to demonstrate with their story.
Often the premise is not something you decide at the table before you begin, but something you discover as you design the story, when situations and characters marked by your stylistic fingerprint start to suggest what the story will be about deep down. You may even fully understand your premise only after the first draft.
A princess’s life is in danger and a young man uses his warrior skills to save her and thus defeat the evil force represented by the Galactic Empire.Star Wars premise
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The premise may sound cliché or a silly little phrase, but it is the element that sums up a good story and hundreds of other similar stories. The whole story must serve the premise, with carefully chosen scenes to support it. The premise makes that series of scenes a unique and coherent story.
Therefore, the premise must be correct, transparent, and truthful so as not to confuse readers while reading the novel and confuse them.