More from Jeff Lyons

Have you ever been at a restaurant with a huge menu, and think that there are too many good choices. All your favorites are available but you only have room for one dish. If the waiter came over and said, “Just look at page 3,” your options would be reduced and improved because of those items on the page, only one or two would appeal to you.

Jeff Lyons said most people are good writers, but not many are good storytellers. Those who are good storytellers might not be good writers, or constructors of the novel. What if you reduced your options so that you might be more productive? Look at all your ideas. Use the best story idea. Access the story gene. Some people are born with that story gene, some can’t craft a story no matter how many classes they take.

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If the story is going to fail, it will first do so at the premise level. Don’t get lost in the story woods. Steven King has the story gene. The vast minority of people who do use it in their daily lives. Maxwell Parkins worked with classic writers like Ernest Hemingway and James Thurber. He had no drive to write but helped writers sort things out. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling (1938) grew out of suggestions made by Perkins. It became a best-seller and won the Pulitzer Prize.

You can learn the craft. If you have the gene, your writing will get even better. If you can walk away from being a writer, you may not have the gene. But if you can’t stop writing for any reason, you can keep on turning out the novels.

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What is your Key Concept? A story premise is a container that has the source of your story’s right, true, and natural structure. Develop your premise and you can cut down your story development time. The story will flow. Otherwise, the story breaks down. When you backtrack to find the problem, you end up back at the beginning. Plotters will have no issue with this idea, but pantsers are already screaming no! But this is not like writing out your entire story as an outline. It’s distilling the concept down to a few sentences.

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The Premise Process has several steps and I highly recommend that you search out Jeff Lyons’ books on the subject. In the meantime, here’s my first attempt at a premise for Crazy for Trying: Adam Dorset’s goal on being released from prison is to find the real crook and turn over evidence that will clear his name. He needs to stay off the radar and finds a safe place, but he fears he will bring the evil that follows him to add more pain to the life of widow Valerie Hardy.

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I’m wondering if a Romance novel needs two premises? Because Val has her own issues like survivor’s guilt and depression from being suddenly alone, her husband and child killed in a car accident, and the wish to join them tugging her down almost daily. Adam lifts her spirits and gives her a focus on staying alive and well. But will the resolution of his issues bring them to die at the hands of a madman?

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Well, I think that helped me a lot and I also think it makes sense. Subplots need premises too! Good luck with your NaNoWriMo or MyNoReMo. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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