Creating a premise is one of the very first steps in solidifying elements of your story. It is a sentence that conveys the tone, theme, plot and characters all in one sentence. Now that sounds pretty daunting, and that’s because it is. It is quite hard to squeeze a complex story into a single sentence, but it essential to do so. It is also important to remember that even though I am expressing that a premise should be the only sentence, a premise with two sentences will also suffice. A premise, however, should be no longer than three sentences as then it will turn into a plot synopsis. But with all this in mind, why is it important to create a premise?
Why Having a Premise is Important
Having a premise is essential, as it is the very first step and your guide in the outlining process. As premise’s hold the central conflict, theme and tone without it, your story can quickly become confused and messy. A premise, at its core, is a construction of your story at its bare bones. Premises hold the foundations of your story, and nothing can be built properly without good, firm foundations. Not only this, but a strongly crafted premise can really hook audiences, get them to really sink their teeth into a story such as yours. But how do your craft a premise?
How to Create a Premise
Establishing a premise is pulling your story from muddled ideas in your mind into a fully-fledged concept, and it can be hard to be both expansive and concise so here is a step by step guide to creating your premise.
Step 1: The ‘What If’ Question
The first step is to have a ‘what if’. This question won’t be in your final premise but rather the first time creating a plot. For example, the ‘What If’ question to the Toy Story series is ‘what if toys were alive?’. This step then leads you to your next step.
Step 2: Brainstorm
The brainstorming aspect of creating a premise is to do with exploring with some of the themes and plots that could answer the ‘what if’ step. Following with the Toy Story example, a theme that is explored is elements of abandonment, and the plot could be about a toy trying to gain the favour of their owner so they would not be abandoned.
Step 3: Identify your Story’s Central Idea
While identifying your story’s central conflict, you will then see whether that your idea is long enough for a story. Using your brainstorming, you then solidify the conflict pulling it out to see if fit could satisfy a reader.
Step 4: Solidify your Characters, Themes and Plot
Creating a premise sentence makes you identify a plot and character. You will list the main cast and then slim it down to the key players in your story (without them there would be no story).
Step 5: Construct your Premise
A premise should contain a few different clauses. The easiest way to construct a premise is to start with a “when” clause. For example, “when a character/event does this” or the “when” clause is identifying your inciting incident. The next clause should be the character acting on that inciting incident. The first step to creating conflict. The following clause is the “until” clause, this introducing conflict or the antagonist force. Then the final clause or the “leading to” clause is all about the change in the world or character. This clause is the final result of your story.
Sorry if there is any mistakes. I haven’t had the time to draft it again a third time but I hope it all still makes sense.