Want to Write a Novel – The Premise

17 Jul

Real Estate 001aThis blog is a way for you to look over my shoulderas I write a book and to interact with me while you write your own. I left the last blog with a promise to write a premise for my story.

 I guess I should have given some advice as to how to do it, just in case you are just starting out and needed to know.  Look for ideas where you normally look, newspapers, magazines, people you know, what you overhear in a crowded place, whatever jumps out at you as a possible story idea.  When you develop a premise, you are taking an idea and constructing it into what your story is about within a few sentences.  It is the basic core of your story.

 Since I am using Hallie Ephron’s book Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel, here is how I would do it using her suggestions:

 Let’s start with my basic idea.  What if a failing romance author’s fiancée dies in the arms of another woman? 

 Maybe an interesting concept but at this point just an idea.

To develop my premise, I have to take it a little further: Suppose a failing romance author’s fiancée dies in the arms of another woman.  What if because of her pride, she lets everyone think he was with her and all seems fine until the police determine that he didn’t die of natural causes and she becomes a suspect?

 Now I have something a little more substantial to hang a story on.  Nothing is ever set in stone at this point but this is my start. 

 Now I am going on to developing my mystery sleuth.  If you are not writing a mystery, this is when you develop your protagonist.  For the next few days, I will be creating my own templates to determine who this character actually is.  Her physical appearance, likes, dislikes, background, everything that has made this character, my sleuth, who she is at this point in her life.

 Does what I’ve covered so far make sense?  Do you see anything that isn’t logical?  Do you understand how to develop a premise and create a character?  Feel free to comment at any time.  Like I said, this is a lonely business and it’s nice to know someone else is out there doing the same things.

 For now, I’m going on with the story and will be back as soon as I get past this step. 

 If you’d like to see how other authors write, check out Lois Greiman’s interview within this blog site.  I will be adding other author interviews over the next few weeks.  They include Carla Cassidy, Franscesca Hawley, Cheryl Saint John, and Dennis Maulsby.  I will continue to post author interviews so keep checking back for more.  After you’ve read Lois’ interview you might take it a step further and read some of her books.

 You are keeping me accountable and I hope to hear from some of you too along the way.

Until next time,



4 responses to “Want to Write a Novel – The Premise

  1. virginiagruver

    July 29, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks so much for such a great responce. And I do appreciate your advice. Like you, I have a huge library of reference books and I do have all of those you mentioned plus a lot more. I am going to have book reviews scattered through the blog also. I am aiming to alternate between fiction and how-to-write books for those reviews. It feels good to know I’ve got someone else working toward the same goal. I’ll look forward to your comments and suggestions. Now on to more writing and hopefully sell a house today. (I am also a Realtor.)


  2. Melissa Sugar Gold

    July 29, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Excellent post as usual. I have my theory and my premise. The part that is so darned hard for me is actually narrowing the concept of my story down to just one to four tantalizing sentences (one to two is ideal). It it much harder than many people realize to sum up your entire story-that includes conflicts, goals, and motivations of the main character(s). It is not an easy task, but one we must master before submitting a queary letter.

    Virginia, I believe I already mentioned this book in an earlier comment, but after reading more of your blog I feel compelled to mention it again. You are writing a mystery and I realize you are already following the guidelines from another book (which I have read and found helpful). The only reason I did not use it more is because my book is a legal thriller and the ideas of developing the slueth, whether she will be an amatuer slueth or…etc. for example is perfect for a ‘who dun it’ mystery, but I needed more guidanace for the direction my characters eventually took me in.

    If you are interested in another helpful book or for a different take on developing your characters, plot, etc. please take a look at:

    “From First Draft To Finished Novel: A writer’s guide to cohesive story building” Written by: Karen S. Weisner published in 2008.

    The reason I am mentioning her book is because she also uses a a real mystey novel as the main work in layering section 2. This is not another outline book like “First draft in 30 days”, it does however appear to pick up where that book left off. This new book focuses on ensuring cohesion between characters, setting and plot. You do not have to be an outliner ( I am not) to benefit from this book.

    Your ideas for developing the premise are good. We can’t get to the meat of the book without some sort of beginning development, regardless of the method you use. I say use whatever works for the individual writer.

    Here is an example fo how Weisner suggest we begin.

    Planning for and Laying a Foundation:
    1. Brainstorming
    2. Researching
    3. Story Blueprinting
    4. Setting the story Blueprint aside

    For more informartion or for the templates or exercised found in this book, visist or sign up directly @

    Keep up the good work; you are the driving force behind many people now.


  3. virginiagruver

    July 23, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Thanks for stopping by. Stop by often.



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