Wednesday, February 10, 2016

#WeWriteBooks, Post 2: Premise

http://jillwilliamson.com/teenage-authors/
Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books in lots of weird genres like fantasy (Blood of Kings and Kinsman Chronicles), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). She's currently writing a post-apocalyptic book with all of you called THIRST in conjunction with the #WeWriteBooks series. 
 
Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website, where you can read THIRST. You can also try two of her fantasy novels for free here and here.


Welcome to week two of #WeWriteBooks Wednesdays. In case you haven't heard, I am taking you all through my process of writing a book, one week at a time. I'll be posting my book over on my author website (click here to subscribe to chapters), so you can read along, if you'd like. This series will end in a BIG contest, opening at the end of August. For information on the contest, see #WeWriteBooks Post 1.


Today's Topic: Premise

Last week we picked a genre. THIRST is post-apocalyptic YA. Today we are going to talk about premise. When I start thinking about a new story idea, it's usually the premise that draws me in, even more than the genre. If you remember, I first brainstormed what became By Darkness Hid in a science fiction storyworld. At the time, it didn't ultimately matter to me where I set the story. It was the premise that had captured my creative juices. I really wanted to write about Amnesia Guy!

As I mentioned in the first post, the Go Teen Writers archives are extensive. We have talked about premise many times before on this blog. One of the best posts overall I found on this topic is one Stephanie wrote called 4 Questions To Ask Before You Write That Story. I highly recommend you look it over. Also, below is a list of several more posts on the topic of premise that might help you if you're stuck. If you don't want to look at all those links right now, skip over them and come back to read some later.

Posts on coming up with new ideas:
4 Questions To Ask Before You Write That Story (Steph's awesome post I mentioned above.)
How To Come Up With A High Concept Pitch
What Is A Logline And How Do You Write One?
10 Story Models That Will Change The Way Your Brainstorm
James Scott Bell Shares His Process For Brainstorming A New Story
5 Places Ideas Come From
What Do I Write Next?

Posts on troubleshooting new ideas:
How Do I Make Sure I'm Being Original In My Writing?
3 Reasons Why That Idea Isn't Working
How Do You Know If Your Story idea is THE IDEA?
How To Get In The Way Of Good Ideas

When I'm brainstorming a new book, I look for a premise that excites me. For something I could build a cool storyworld around. But ultimately, the most important thing I need to know is: WHAT happens to WHO and WHY does the reader care?

The premise for THIRST came to me while brainstorming and plotting out The Safe Lands series. Originally, The Safe Lands was going to be a fantasy series about a land with a disease, but since dystopian was popular, and my publisher wanted to see dystopian stories, I played around with putting The Safe Lands on earth. And as I set about building the storyworld for that future dystopia, I kept coming up against questions as to what happened "way back when" that caused this bad future. Since the story was now bordering on science fiction, I needed the science to be plausible (which always hurts my brain). So I took some time to research and ask science-minded people for help. I discovered that if I wanted a disease as my problem, the fastest way to spread it around the world would be through drinking water. That got me thinking about the ancestors of my dystopian heroes. Who were they? How did they end up living outside the Safe Lands walls? (Click here to see the map from my dystopian story.)

The next thing I knew, I started writing THIRST, just to understand what happened in the past so I could better set up my future dystopia. It was a strange experience, especially when my agent told me that my publisher wanted to see sample chapters from both. In one book I was writing about a teenage Eli. In the other book, Eli was over ninety years old!

All this to explain that sometimes a premise comes about in an unconventional way. I wasn't sitting around watching the rain, thinking, "What if a disease in the water mostly wiped out the population of earth?" Instead, THIRST came out of my seeking the origins of another world. (Incidentally, the premise for The Kinsman Chronicles also began that way. Perhaps I'm starting a trend for myself...)

Regardless of where your idea came from, you need to refine it before you're ready for the next step. You need to be able to say: WHAT happens to WHO and WHY does the reader care? For THIRST I started out with:

An apocalypse happens to teenage Eli McShane.

That was okay to start, but I needed to know more to have enough to build a story. I like to build on an idea by asking questions. Some natural questions that arose when looking at the above premise were:

-What kind of apocalypse?
-How does Eli manage to live through it?
-(Because I'm setting up the dystopian Safe Lands world) How does Eli end up in Colorado?

With that in mind, I put in more time brainstorming the premise, and I came up with this. (I color-coded it as: WHAT happens to WHO and WHY does the reader care?)

A waterborne disease has sprung up in every corner of the globe, decimating the human race. Young survivors Eli McShane and his friends journey toward Colorado and the rumored location of a safe water source.

It's no stellar back cover copy, but I now have my WHAT, my WHO, and my WHY does the reader care? (And the reader cares because the reader wants the hero to survive!)




Assignment Time

Today's assignment is to answer this for your story: WHAT happens to WHO and WHY does the reader care? Post your answer in the comment section, and if you're stuck, ask for help and I'll brainstorm with you and maybe ask you some questions that could help you narrow things down a bit.

Also, last week I got so excited about the start of #WeWriteBooks that I forgot to announce that The Heir War released! If you've read Darkness Reigns, be sure to check out part two. And if you haven't read Darkness Reigns, check it out. It's free.

http://jillwilliamson.com/teenage-authors/

111 comments:

  1. Awesome post! I can't wait for August!! I'm still brainstorming for my book :)

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  2. Okay, here goes...

    When five young superheroes are framed on their first assignment, they must go on the run from their own people until they can find out who framed them...and why.

    This is my first time trying to put this idea down into specific words, so feel free to critique.

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    1. This idea sounds awesome, Linea! (I'm a big super hero fan myself.) :) Are all five heroes the MCs, or is there one in particular? You might want to make that a bit clearer. For starters, though, I think this is great!

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    2. Thanks for the comments, Lily! I've tweaked it a bit.

      When 16 year old Tess and her superhero team are framed on their first assignment, they must go on the run from their own people until they can find out who framed them...and why.

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    3. Sounds great!

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    4. Love this! Good job on the critique (Lily) and the rewrite (Linea). This story sound so much fun!

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    5. That sounds so cool! I'm not a big superhero person but I have to admit, I LOVE where you're going with this. Keep up the awesome work.

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  3. In Jamasia there is a God-given prophecy telling of a hero that will drive the tyrants from the land. Cocky Darro is determined to serve the prophesied one to the death, but when the prophecy begins to turn on its head, he must face some hard questions. Is the prophecy- and the God who gave it- failing? And is the hero really the one everyone thinks?

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    1. This sounds fun, Savannah. I can tell you've been working on it from the last time you shared bits about it. Well done! I'm intrigued how all this will play out.

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    2. This sounds awesome! I would definitely read it.

      Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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  4. So cool! This is what I have for now, though it might change. What do you think?

    In a world ridden with war between elves and humans, the undead are overrunning the land as the queen of the Underworld, Hel, starts her plan to conquer the mortal world. Royal assassin Dorlin Hull, who is plagued by a mysterious power over fire since his parents died in an arson, must now unite with an old warrior who claims he is his uncle, Borifas, to hunt down an old rival back from the dead and Hel's right hand, Servus Strife, before he summons her from her throne in the Underworld.

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    1. This is very cool, Jason. I'm a bit confused on this last part:

      must now unite with an old warrior who claims he is his uncle, Borifas, to hunt down an old rival back from the dead and Hel's right hand, Servus Strife, before he summons her from her throne in the Underworld.

      I think you're trying to do too much in that sentence. If you cut out "an old rival back from the dead" it might help. Maybe:

      must now unite with an old warrior who claims he is his uncle, Borifas, to hunt down Hel's right hand, Servus Strife, before he summons her from her throne in the Underworld.

      Also, a questions. Before "he" summons "her" --Who is the "he" and who is the "her?" The her is Hel, yes? But who is the one who can summon her?

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    2. The "he" is Servus, and the "her" is Hel, yes. I'm sorry about the confusion; this was something I didn't really edit as it was the first thing that came out of my mind, from those thought I've been brewing for quite a while now. I'm going to change it up, but for now here is the edited version:

      In a world ridden with war between elves and humans, Dorlin Hull is a royal assassin working for the Emperor of Imperia, but who is also plagued by morbid fear of fire and a mysterious power over it ever since his parents died in an arson. When an old rival, Servus Strife, comes back from the dead, Imperia starts facing a sudden onslaught by undead creatures, creatures sacred to Hel, the goddess of the Underworld. Now framed for summoning the beasts of death, Dorlin must quickly embrace his powers and unite with Borifas, an old warrior who claims he is his uncle, to hunt Servus down before he succeeds in usurping the throne of Imperia and summoning Hel herself.

      There are many elements I want to add, like the Flameweavers, an ancient peacekeeping force, and an old wizard. Any feedback?

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    3. Okay, I gocha. Sounds like you know your storyworld well, Jason. For now, keep things as simple as possible. You can add in more of those details when you work on a synopsis.

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  5. Great post, Jill! I've been looking forward to it all week. Since I don't write fantasy, my idea might seem a little "boring" but I welcome anyone's critiques...I'm that weird kind of person that actually likes criticism. Here goes... (I hope it doesn't matter that I changed the order a bit)
    While vacationing in her deceased mother's hometown, Allegra Klosno slowly discovers that her beloved mother had a secret past of stardom, but why hadn't her father told her? And where is the last page to the piano concerto which Allegra's mother penned near the end of her life? Allegra is determined to find answers--and the missing music--before she and her sisters fly back to Boston.


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    1. Ooh! I love this, Taylor. How interesting! I think you did a great job. I want to know the story about her mother too!

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    3. Thanks so much, Jill! I'm glad you like it. By the way, I had an idea (and maybe someone's suggested this before, but here goes...): I know tons of people listen to music (usually instrumental) when they write. I know I do! So I thought maybe someone could start a GTW playlist (a collaborative one, so we could all add our favorite songs that we write to) on Spotify. Just an idea but I thought it could be fun. If you haven't already guessed, I'm a major music nerd!

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    4. Sounds fun. I know nothing about Spotify, but if you are willing to start it, I bet others would enjoy it.

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    5. Cool. Let's see how it goes. So, if anyone is interested in listening to the playlist/adding their own songs, just search Spotify for "Go Teen Writers" and it should pop up. As far as adding songs, I'd like to keep it all instrumental, but, other than that, anything goes! Hopefully we can all discover some cool new music.

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  6. So far the secluded forest-dwelling jackers have been untainted by the greed and corruption spreading across their world, but this changes when they receive an urgent cry for help from the neighboring elves. Brayden, a young jacker who's never been outside the forest, is sent with the team to help, but he can't shake the feeling that there's something far worse going on behind the scenes. Meanwhile, his brother Garan is back at home trying to deal with sudden uprisings and mysterious deaths, but something seems to be influencing his magic, and the more Garan relies on this new power, the weaker he becomes.

    I just made this up, so I'm not sure how it is. I have two POVs, so is it ok to include the plotlines for both or should I figure out a way to combine them and make the premise smaller? Also, because my characters are a species I made up, should I bother including their species in it at all since I'm not explaining it in here?
    Great post!

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    1. Oh, good job, Lily. I really like this. How curious you've made me! My only question is why these two brothers? Are they part of a ruling family? The military? And you might not need to include that in this, but I'm just curious.

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    2. By the way, I think you handled the two POVs really well.

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    3. Thanks! And I chose these two because (little backstory here) their people, the jackers, are very in tune with nature and have nature-related magic as well as foresight. Brayden has an unrivaled talent at communicating with creatures and spirits, and his foresight is very strong, but he has no other magic at all. Garan's magic is extraordinarily powerful but unpredictable in when and how it works, and he has no foresight at all, which has never happened before.
      Also, when I first brainstormed the story, it was these two who were always the MCs. I've thought about others, but the story always comes back to these two.

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  7. Centuries after the Darkened Veil, when the mortal world was separated from the immortal, the Greek gods have begun to enslave those beneath them as a source of power. Artemis, goddess of the hunt, seeks to free her titan mother from this fate even if she must kill to do so. But will the nymph, Demetre, be able to lead her to another way?

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    1. I'm intrigued, and I like how you ended this, but there is one thing I'm not clear on. If the Greek gods are enslaving the mortals, what "fate" is Artemis's mother facing? You said "enslave those beneath them" so I thought you meant the humans. But maybe you meant different gods with lesser powers?

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    2. Greek mythology! :D Awesomeness. I love the idea of Artemis trying to free her mother, although like Jill said, it might help if you clarify what she must be freed from.
      Just guessing here, but are the gods forcing the titans to perform cruel tasks, like Atlas holding up the sky?
      Whatever the case, I think your premise has a lot of potential. :)

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  8. First of all, I'm always so touched when you reference one of my posts :)

    Your what, who, why has saved my butt multiple times when trying to write out my premise! Here's my most recent:

    When her best friend is abducted during the spring of 1924, seventeen-year-old Piper Sail will hunt for answers amidst the corruption that strangles Chicago, but she will have to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the truth when her amateur sleuthing skills lead her back to her own front door.

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    1. Wow. Your premise sounds awesome! Definitely something I would like to read.

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    2. Love it, Steph. I've read this book, you guys. It's AMAZING! You will love it. :-)

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    3. Awesome, Stephanie--i WANT TO READ THIS! ;-)

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  9. Twenty years after the Creepers took his land, Halvard volunteers to go on a mission to find the Dragon Guides, the only people who can help his tribe to take back what they lost. However, the journey is a hard one. No one else has ever succeeded. And he’s on a time limit, as his tribe will attack to take back their land at the summer solstice, whether Halvard succeeds or not.

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    1. Nice, Esther! This sounds really exciting. The only thing I might tweak would be to add something about his motives (avoiding war?), since at the end you give a second way that his tribe could take back what they lost. Maybe:

      Twenty years after the Creepers took his land, Halvard volunteers to go on a mission to find the Dragon Guides, the only people who can help his tribe to take back what they lost without resorting to war.

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  10. Warren Reynold's life is turned upside down when his older brother, Lucas, is killed mysteriously while working for the FBI. When Lucas's fiancée, Jenny, reveals a few secrets of her own, Warren and Jenny set out to discover the truth about Lucas's death and to finish his work. But just what was Lucas working on, and how will it change the world? Teaming up with a cryptic pilot, Jenny and Warren must find the truth before it's too late.

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    1. Ooh! A spy story! This sounds really cool...definitely something I would buy. I hope to hear more about it next week.

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    2. Thanks! I've always loved a good conspiracy/spy story, so it was sort of what I defaulted to.

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  11. The last Lorian, Avartes Zalaxter Alendor, has escaped fate at the hands of those who murdered his family. But since then he has become a liar and a thief.
    When a gem is stolen from the king of Iroloth, Avartes is blamed. People all over the city appear to be getting infected with something that makes them act out all of the seven sins.
    Avartes must steal the gem from the original thief, and return it to the king to earn the trust of his only friend back.

    But there's one problem with that, no one trusts an elf.

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    1. THIS.
      SOUNDS.
      EPIC.
      OH MY GOODNESS I WOULD LOVE TO READ THIS.
      Best of luck to you!

      Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    2. This is great. I love that last line. If I were you, I would delete the line about the seven sins. It feels out of place. Keep it in the story, just leave it out of the description. Or work to tie it in better. Here are some questions to consider that might help me help you:
      -Does the gem have something to do with the infections of the deadly sins? Or is it some kind of cure?
      -You said "earn the trust of his only friend back" --who is this? The king?

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    3. The last Lorian, Avartes Zalaxter Alendor, has escaped fate at the hands of those who murdered his family. But since then he has become a liar and a thief.
      When a gem is stolen from the king of Iroloth, Avartes is blamed. But Avartes has his own suspicions of the gem. As soon as it went missing, people all over the city started becoming infected with something that made them act out the seven sins. Avartes must steal the gem from the original thief, and return it to the king to earn back the trust of his only friend, Latheron Shaller, the king's brother.

      But there's one problem with that, no one trusts an elf.


      -Thanks for the advice!

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    4. That clears things up nicely! Well done. :-)

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  12. Okay, so I'm having trouble with this :(

    This is what I know: My heroine is a mute girl named Kaia who gets adopted by the court physician of Friel Palace to work as his assistant. My hero is a Prince Fearghal who is one of the star-people. (which basically means he can do a lot of cool things, like produce fire in his bare hands. And thus his nickname: Flint.)
    The story is a romance between the two, Kaia and Flint, but it is complicated by two things: One, the queen does not approve at all of a mute orphan girl marrying her precious son, and two, the prince becomes fatally ill by a curse, and the only way (supposedly) to save him is a fireplant on the other side of the Black Forest.

    So I'm pretty clear what my story's ABOUT, I'm just having trouble writing a premise for it. The problem is I don't know what to put in, and what to leave out. Could someone help me? I'd really appreciate it!!!

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    1. Clearly you know your book better than I do, but how about something like this:
      (*Who*) Kaia, a mute orphan, becomes the assistant of the court physician and meets the (magically?) powerful Prince Fearghal, known as Flint. (*What*) When Flint is cursed (who is he cursed by?) and becomes fatally ill, (*why*) Kaia begins a search for a rare fireplant that may save him, but it's on the other side of the dangerous Black Forest, the queen doesn't approve of an orphan girl aiding the prince, and Kaia is running out of time.

      I hope I helped. Your story sounds interesting!

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    2. That sounds awesome!! Thanks so much!

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    3. Great job helping out, Lily! That sounds fabulous. And a very fun premise to you, Rosie. I love the idea of a prince falling in love with a mute girl!

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    4. Thanks! I thought it would be original :)

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  13. Kamri Taylor thinks it's the worst thing that could happen when she's sent to a boarding school. Then, she meets Erin, Mason, and Collin, and they have a secret that binds them together. Now, they need Kamri's help.
    --

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    1. This sounds so cool!! I'm already curious. What is this big secret?? Best of luck to you and I hope to hear more about your project!

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    2. I'm intrigued, Josie! I'm assuming you know what the secret is, which is important for you as you're brainstorming your premise. But you don't have to tell the rest of us. It's more fun to make us wonder and want to read your book, huh? LOL

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  14. Clara's dead...at least she remembers being dead. but now she's stuck in east end london of 1940, living day by day as the bombs of the blitz destroy and kill each night. Clara must take advantage of her new chance and survive through the horrors of the war, while deciding if, in the end, her painful new life alive is better than her peacful dark one dead.

    I tried to write this once and it completely flopped. So i tweaked it "a little" (a lot) and am trying it again. any feedback?

    ~K.A.C.

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    1. This sounds AWESOME! How'd she end up there? How'd she die? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

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    2. It's very intriguing, Katie. I have some questions so I can give good feedback.
      -Did she really die? If so, how did she get this "new chance to survive?"
      -Why is her new life painful?

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    3. thanks for the feedback!

      she's living in poverty during the Blitz, so her new life isn't all fun and games. there's going to be a lot of death and sadness and stuff that isn't really happy. and she actually did die and remembers what it was like to be dead. So throughout the book, she's comparing and contrasting her life when dead and her life now. as for how all that happened, I have no idea. hopefully I'll figure that out soon.

      ~K.A.C.

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    4. Gotcha, Katie. Sounds like a neat story. Keep at it!

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  15. My idea is for a modern retelling of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, except as genius, irritating teenagers. Here's my premise so far:

    Michael Angilero and Leonard Davenport are their town's genius, renegade artists. Their lives are ones of ripped-up jeans and graffiti in alleyways, discarded cigarettes and impenetrable self-satisfaction. Until unfriendly friction arises between them, that is - and suddenly, the peace in Artists' Row is shattered.

    (I believe I will call it "Smoke Rings on Artists' Row" (Artists' Row being the alleyway where Leonard and Michael do most of their graffiti), so that's what the last bit means.)

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. I love that. :) Rehashing Michelangelo and da Vinci as graffiti artists is a terrific idea--now I'm wondering what the modern equivalent of The Last Judgement and Leonardo's inventions would be.

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    2. Fun! I really like the sound of this so keep up the good work. I'm eager to hear more about it.

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    3. Ellie, this is super fun and clever. I love it. Onward, writer girl!

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  16. I thought of this a few weeks ago, so it’s still in its embarrassing infantile stages. But feedback is welcome! I'm really eager to refine the plot.

    In brief: A teenage sleuth must prove that her best friend is innocent of murder.

    In detail:
    Katie and Jane were the best of friends—until a high school murder calls their entire relationship into question. Cops and journalists are united on the verdict: all of the evidence appears to implicate Jane.
    But is it really that simple? Katie smells a conspiracy.
    Desperate to prove her friend’s innocence, she mounts a private investigation, peeling back the secrets of those she loves most.

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    1. Wow, if this is "embarrassingly infantile", a description which I love, by the way, then I can't wait to see how you refine it! It already sounds good to me!

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    2. I agree with Taylor. This sounds great, Lylyss. Keep at it!

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  17. I've been struggling with this, so this is a splendid opportunity:) I love how many people are benefitting from this!

    Here goes nothing:

    When the Nordic time era in a world of fractured time is blockaded by futuristic mercenaries, four outcast youths from from different times are forced together to aid an ADHD Norse prince in rescuing his time and getting home. However, with personal agenda backing every action, they seem more likely to slit each other throats before even facing the looming threat to their own times. The fate of time is in their hands, and they must conquer their darkest fears and even darker desires if they are to transcend.
    But for now, they are Delitescent ...

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    1. This sounds awesome!

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    2. I'm intrigued by this premise. Will there be four points of view?

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  18. So excited for this series and the contest!

    I just wrote this five seconds ago, so, apologies for the plain-ness. Also, it's a contemporary, so not quite as exciting as some of the lovely fantasy descriptions.

    A year after the accident that ripped her family and their small Southern town apart, Annie Jo Walker is barely treading water. When secrets old and new threaten her family again, Annie Jo fights to return her life to the way it was before the accident. But even all the bluegrass music and banana pudding in the world might not be enough to fix what's been broken this time.

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    1. Not exciting?!? This is one of my favorite ideas yet, Olivia! I'm thrilled to find another contemporary writer...I'm not a fantasy/sci-fi fan (sorry, Jill!). This is really intriguing and I LOVE that last line. If I had seen this on the back cover of a book at the bookstore, I would have snatched it right up, so great job!

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    2. This comment just made my day! Thanks so much Taylor! So glad to find another contemporary writer on GTW.

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    3. Contemporaries unite! Glad you two found each other. :-) Olivia, I think this sounds fun. I like that you brought some character description into the blurb.

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    4. Hey Olivia, (and anyone else who happens to read this...)
      Did you happen to see that awesome post of Stephanie's about writing from your heart??? It actually came at just the right time for me...I have a problem. I was planning on writing a mystery-ish book (you can see the premise above) but there's this other story...I wrote it two years ago and it's terribly clichéd, yet I feel that it really does have promise. I could throw it away for good (the thought of which just about kills me) or I could brainstorm ways to twist it up. Here's the premise:

      Majorly talented yet slightly clumsy Lauren DuPont is dropped headfirst into what could be the biggest opportunity--or mistake--of her entire life. When she applied to Hidden Waters School of the Arts--one of the nation's most prestigious performing arts high schools--she hadn't been counting on getting accepted. To her utmost shock, however, she made the cut. Now she's trying to find friends in a school riddled with opinionated cliques and persnickety professors. Feeling the pressure to conform, Lauren is determined to keep quiet and please the popular crowd--but will she stay stuck in the shadows or learn to walk to the beat of her own song?

      Cliché-filled, I know, but it's a story premise that truly is dear to me. Would you throw it out or try to salvage it? If it's worth saving, does anyone have any ideas for how I could make it more original? (Romance? Mystery?) I truly do appreciate anyone's input. Thanks!!

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  19. I think I'm going to conquer my fears and write a historical comedy mystery all in one. Here is my premise (it's still pretty rough, so beware):

    Siblings Viola and Killian Lark are filmmaking detectives who have never stayed in one place for very long. Viola has her eye on becoming a major star detective. In an attempt to grow their YouTube following, they discover a way to travel back in time, "accidentally" bump into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and create a rift in the time space continuum. Just the usual for detectives who have never solved anything bigger than missing pets. From there it's the faerie collapsing timelines, epic sass battles, and a discovery that could change the course of history...literally.

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    1. This is very original and fun, Alea. With your mention of faeries, would that make this a historical comedy fantasy mystery? You might be able to call it satire. Maybe fantasy satire. Like these: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/fantasy-satire

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  20. So, I decided I would try this with my current WIP. Worked on it a bit yesterday and came up with this:

    Rose Ningolsham is living the perfect life. She has a fiancee. A family of high standing, and a promising career in politics. But when she finds out that her achievements are not her own but rather part of a bigger plan which entails her continuing in politics with her father or her immediate execution, she must decide whether a past life she doesn't remember, and the people therein, is worth risking her future for.

    I don't know what to think. It was hard to decide what exactly goes into these. What is important, what doesn't matter, what should be kept a secret. I kept thinking of different angles to do it from but decided I should just get it written to see if I had the right idea. Any advice would be loved! :)

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    1. I really liked it, Sananora! I do think you could combine some of those sentences, like I show below, but I really like yours. And the story sounds so promising!

      Rose Ningolsham has a wonderful fiance, a wealthy family, and a promising career in politics, but when she discovers she is but a pawn in a plan which will see her executed if she fails, she must decide whether a life she can't remember and the people in it are worth risking her future for.

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    2. Thanks so much for the help! Your version sounds a lot better :) And thanks for the encouragement. I need it. The planning for the third draft is killing me...

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    3. You did a good job, Sananora, but I do like how Lily simplified the wording. I'm intrigued and would definitely want to read more. Keep at it!

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  21. First time trying to summarize this, so I'm sorry if it doesn't make sense . . . it sounds like epic fantasy, but it's actually more futuristic/Star Wars-like.

    In a world where each of the nine realms is perpetually caught in a different time of day, the Keepers--an elite league of warriors and spies with abilities some might call magical--were once heroes, but rumors are beginning to spread. People are disappearing. Thieves and murderers are everywhere. And some are blaming the Keepers for the death of the sunrise realm's entire royal family.

    When Cody and his new apprentice Sorrel are sent on a dangerous undercover mission to uncover the truth behind the mysterious death of a Keeper, they're drawn into something far bigger.

    (And I have no idea what that something far bigger is.)

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    1. Good start, Ellie. FYI, Star Wars is a space opera, so you could call your genre space opera and people would know it wasn't epic fantasy.

      In a premise, you don't need the paragraph that sets up your storyworld. You only need the second paragraph. As is, it reads like two stories, even though I know they are connected.

      For the first paragraph, I would try to simplify, cut words wherever you can to start. Ex:

      In a world where each of the nine realms is perpetually caught in a different time of day, the Keepers were once heroes, but when crime becomes rampant, people go missing, and the sunrise realm's entire royal family is murdered, many blame the Keepers.


      The second is great. You just need something bigger. How about:

      ...they're drawn into a political conspiracy that reaches through all nine realms (or--that threatens the future of all nine realms).

      Because from what you set up in that first paragraph, I'm sensing that the Keepers are innocent--possibly being framed by some mystery villain.

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    2. Thanks! :) This actually doesn't have the space aspect--by "Star Wars-like" I meant it has different worlds/cultures and different eras of technology--so I think it's probably more sci-fi fantasy.

      Your version sounds much better. :) I have a hard time with concise summaries. And yes, essentially that's what's going on. (Most of them are innocent. Just maybe not all of them.)

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  22. "What happens to who and why does the reader care?"

    Shael Jaxon Moore, a teenaged boy with a single mom and a job to help support her, thinks himself pretty normal. Which is why he attributes his strange, repetitive dreams to an unhealthy sleep schedule. The same two people talking nonsense in nearly every dream for the past few months can't be that odd, can it?
    But when Jaxon sees one of the men in real life, and overhears a phrase often said in his dream, he begins to wonder if, perhaps, there is more going on than meets the eye.
    And he's not going to keep flipping burgers and remain in the dark.

    I'm not entirely sure about that last part... The "why does the reader care."

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    1. Actually... I think I'm switching which story I'm using to follow along with this. I'm not very excited about this story that I picked, so I'm switching to a story I like better. I haven't written a synopsis yet, but I shall do so fairly soon.

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    2. Okay, this sounds really awesome. :P

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    3. Okay, here we go. This is the synopsis for the new one. It's a little long, and I'm not sure I'm happy with it, but... Yeah. Here it is!

      L'drae is the daughter of the Captain of the Guard, whose only
      daughter supposedly died five years ago.

      Unknown to most, she has been working as the king's assassin for the
      past few years. Unknown to the king, she has been smuggling her
      supposed victims out of the country every time.

      L'drae tells herself she has put her past life behind her… But
      she cannot escape the nagging thought that when she gains enough
      reputation, she can blackmail the neighboring king into naming her
      his heir—therefore putting her into the correct position to give
      her childhood friend, Prince Deral, the alliance and fulfillment of
      duty he stands by, while giving L'drae the marriage she still hopes
      for, all these years later.

      She is prepared for a lot, but one thing she did not expect was to
      be interrupted by a controversial order from Deral's father: Kill
      Deral's little sister—and make it look like an assassination.

      L'drae makes the decision to move the child out of the country,
      but, unfortunately, His Majesty the king decides this is a delicate
      mission. And he requires proof.

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  23. This is an awesome idea! How on earth did you create such a detailed map?

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  24. I'm excited to have a contest to keep me accountable in writing my novel! With judges, unlike NaNoWriMo... (I still haven't managed to finish any NaNo novels.)

    I'm not sure if this is a premise though. It's more of a back cover copy, I think. How would I shorten it?

    In an early-mid 21st century America, a 16-year-old Kyler Coronado is one of the nation’s brightest; a shoe-in for any of the elite colleges and universities. Except he’s procrastinated big time. It’s his junior year of high school and his college fund is almost non-existent.

    When the world’s intelligence network announces a scholarship challenge, Kyler joins a division of extraordinary teens from around the globe in a game of high stakes espionage. Divisions of the smartest and fittest young agents must compete for the ultimate prize: full-ride scholarships to the top universities in the United States and an apprenticeship to one of the elite agents and spies.

    Over the course of the competition, a new threat has emerged. A group of rogue agents threatens the biggest cyber-attack this century. On their culminating assignment, Kyler and his new friends make a shocking discovery that shakes the foundation of their close-knit team. Now it’s race against time to apprehend the mole before he or she apprehends them.

    - Rachel

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    1. This sounds awesome, Mya Stea! :-) I would love to read a book with this on the back.

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    2. Thanks Faith! So would I- that's why I'm hoping I'll actually finish this WIP.

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  25. Alrighty, here goes my attempt a premise for a story I've been working on for a while. Let me know if it's any good.

    Called on a journey that forces him to see the bigger picture, a revenge driven traveler sets out to save a crumbling world that took everything from him.

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    1. This sounds like a really interesting foundation for a story! My question is, can you be a little more specific? As your premise stands now, I have no idea what the genre or the setting is. Is it dystopian? Scifi? Fantasy? Contemporary? Is it this world or a completely different one? How old is the traveler? What calls him on his journey? What made him want revenge? Why is the world crumbling? I don't know if you can possibly get all of that information in the premise, but I just want to get you thinking about how to get more specific. I'm already fascinated by it, though, so definitely tell me what you come up with! Hope this helped :)

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    2. Yeah, I kinda figured I'd been too vague, thanks for helping me see the holes I'd left. Lets see if I can explain things concisely without being too confusing. BTW, it's a fantasy with a scifi twist.

      No one believes in Witches or Alchemists anymore, and the idea that a Scholar can read your mind is laughable, or should be. These days who can be sure? Morian knows better than to ignore legends. He is one. The travelling jewel-smith hides his alchemist roots, the very abilities that sent the Scholar’s unknown assassin after his family years before. Morian quietly lies in wait for the day he can kill the man and regain his precious stolen sword, Havoke. He’s not the only one looking though, and when Ferl, a fugitive Scholar, offers his help, Morian reluctantly changes out his solitary revenge for a rebel's cause, to end the Scholars’ tight control of the Kingdom, and perhaps learn to trust and even love along the way.

      I hope that's a bit better, but I'm open to more criticism :)

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  26. How about this?
    16-year-old Kyler Coronado is a shoe-in for any of the elite colleges and universities--except for one major glitch. He's procrastinated big time and his college fund is almost nonexistent! Through a fortuitous turn of events, Kyler finds himself in the midst of a game of high-stakes espionage. The prize? A full-ride scholarship! Kyler and his newfound friends and teammates bond over mysterious missions but their relationship is shaken when a shocking discovery is made during their culminating assignment--and they discover that a group of rogue agents is on the loose! Now it's a race against time to apprehend the mole before he or she apprehends them.

    I'm actually not up on spy-speak so I'm not sure what a mole is...maybe this could be explained and, Of course, I don't know much about your story (other than that I'd love to read it!), so I might have chosen to leave out something super important (or combined two incompatible thoughts)...but just trimming the fat works wonders!

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    1. Oops! I just realized that I accidentally posted this instead of just replying to Mya's awesome comment. Sorry Mya!

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    2. That's okay! You’re right Taylor- trimming the fat really does work wonders! Thanks for your suggestion- I preferred the phrasing of some of your new sentences better than the originals, tweaking it a bit to fit my story idea, as you can see:

      16-year-old Kyler Coronado is practically guaranteed four years at any of the world’s elite colleges or universities—if only it weren’t for procrastination. It’s his junior year of high school and his college fund is almost non-existent! Through a fortuitous turn of events, Kyler finds himself in the midst of a game of high-stakes espionage. Part of the prize? A full-ride scholarship! When a group of rogue agents threatens the biggest cyber-attack this century, Kyler and his newfound friends and teammates bond over high-profile missions as they crisscross the globe, but their relationship is shaken when a shocking discovery is made during their culminating assignment—the mole is among them and the clock is ticking.

      Note: A mole is an enemy spy that infiltrates the ranks of an organization, gaining trust and power before a silent or public betrayal.

      I’m not completely sure how to incorporate the definition though.

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  27. Okay, here's mine; I just came up with this story idea to do a sort of backstory for the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, and this is my attempt to summarize the ideas floating around in my head:

    [Unnamed as of yet] is a young woman coming of age in 1940s England. When she begins to see things that others cannot, she finds herself shunned, heartbroken, and thrown into a quickly deteriorating alternate world. Now she must rescue the inhabitants of this Wonderland from the powers of darkness and the weak king who will be their undoing.

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    1. That sounds AWESOME!!!! You should totally write and publish it.

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  28. I'm having a difficult time coming up with a premise. I know WHAT I want to write about (a girl who disguises herself as a boy and runs away to sea; I'm not sure if it will be a pirate or privateer ship) but I just can't figure out the WHY should the reader care. Can anyone give me some ideas as a jumping-off point?

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    1. Well start with why the character cares. Does she love the sea, is she running from something, does she have a past that drives her? The reader often cares because we want to know how the character might change or be changed by the story. Perhaps she's followed or finds someone who knows her out there. I hope that helped, and it sounds like you've got a good start :)

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    2. Hey Sada. Great start--I love where you're headed. As for a "why", I have a few ideas:

      Give the girl a REASON to run away--something sympathetic, such as a failed relationship, tragic accident, or mortifying scandle. This could haunt her so that she tries to escape but the harsh reality is that it follows her everywhere...

      She's on the run. Somehow she got in trouble with the law (maybe she's being persecuted for her faith?) and she's determined to make her escape...

      A beloved and possibly deceased friend or family member was an old sea dog and she wants to experience life on a ship for herself/honor their memory by creating her own adventures...

      That is what I could think of, off the top of my head. Hopefully I was some small bit of help. Let me know how it goes!

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    3. Thank you; that really does point me in the right direction.

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    4. Thanks, Sada, and I'm really sorry, Whoknrwspoons. I published my comment before I ever saw yours, yet it TOTALLY looks I "copied off your work". I'm so sorry!! Great minds think alike, I suppose!

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  29. Here's my idea: Mallorie Jackson has grown up in a small, sheltered community, with her best friends Alec and Casey. When disaster strikes, and the whole tribe, except for Mallorie, Alec, and Casey, is killed by an unknown enemy, the trio must work together to survive and keep safe in a world unbeknownst to them.

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  30. After her 12th--or 3rd--birthday takes an unexpected turn, Isabella is surprised to be alone on a birthday she usually spends with her sisters. She soon discovered that if she doesn't harness her powers of invisibility and escape a mysterious maze--completing 7riduculously easy challenges-- she will lose what she doesn't know she loves.

    Is this too long? Should I add more- there is still more characters, events, etc.?

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    1. I don't think it's too long. I think it sounds like an awesome story!

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  31. 16 year old Grace has spent all of her life in darkness when a family buys her from the market in purple royal. Who are this family? And why does their son follow Grace everywhere she goes? They're harboring a secret but only time will tell what the secret is.

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  32. WHAT happens to WHO and WHY does the reader care?
    Led by an outcast God and an army of legendary creatures, young slave girl Eliana leads a rebellion to regain the throne that was once her parents'. But does this strange God tell the truth about her past and her dreams, or is she just a pawn in his game?
    In the palace, Princess Kallias leads a double life. Knowing that the laws of Jahan would never allow her to be heir to the throne, she prepares to be a knight. When the time comes, will she be able to prove her worth to her father?
    Ariston is nothing but a lesser prince, a toy in the hands of his elder brother and heir to the throne. He was sent to Jahan on a mission-- meet the Princess Kallias, his elder brother's betrothed, and test the father her king's loyalty. Little did he know that she would be his latest trainee in the arts of war, and the first woman for whom he feels true love. War reigns between his brother's country and his love's. To which side will he respond-- or to neither?

    (There are 3 POV's, so it's kinda hard to figure out how to shuffle them...)

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