Premise Vs. Story: One Big Mistake Writers Make

Learn the difference between premise and story and why writers need to check more than one box to write and sell a successful novel.
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In some cases, novels don’t tell a story, but merely work through a premise. This is an easy mistake to make, especially when the writer has a premise such as, “Living alongside us is an entire community of wizards and other supernatural creatures.” A premise like that immediately grabs our attention, and readers eagerly snatch up their
reading glasses.

(What Is and Isn't High Concept Fiction, and How to Pitch It.)

The same is true of other premises inherent in the Potter series:

“Imagine a boarding school full of witches and wizards.”

“A powerful evil wizard is out to take over the world.”

Each of these premises is a blockbuster, and the Potter series contains all of them, and more. But even such powerful premises would spell disaster if they were treated as story descriptions.

The Potter series is successful because Rowling knows the difference between a premise and story, and she keeps all of her premises (however powerful they might be) subservient to the story that she wants to tell.

Premise vs. Story: One Big Mistake Writers Make

Converting a premise into a story isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. The premise can easily become an end in itself, or at least an excuse for why the writer hasn’t included a clear protagonist, a meaningful crisis, or a powerful plot line.

(Plot Twist Story Prompts.)

For many struggling writers, this is a stumbling block they never get past. As a result, no amount of otherwise sterling writing will save them.

Readers pay to be told a story, and this above all else is what the Potter series delivers.

*****

Build Your Novel Scene by Scene

If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

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