For whatever reason I have struggled more with composing a premise than any other step in developing my draft. Perhaps because I did not do it first.
Some of you have read my previous posts and know that I wrote an entire manuscript already. It was submitted and rejected, for good reason. When I first tried to create a new novel in the same universe, I made many adjustments. The truth is there was a forbidden relationship in the first version, and I wanted to eliminate it, or at least make it much more subtle. I have no idea why, but I absolutely HATE wedding scenes. Having one in my novel was not an option.
Unfortunately, once I removed this subplot from the story there was a lot to fill in. What is my book about? What is my main character's goal? Who is the villain? What are they fighting over? Things cannot just happen to the MC. She needs to be active. She needs plans and motivation.
Then there is the question of supernatural abilities. No villain would stand a chance against someone with limitless power. I knew this, but the only limitations I placed on my MC were her ignorance and inexperience. It worked, but I knew I could do better.
While I continue to struggle with the perfect premise statement, I feel that I am getting closer. I know more about my character than ever. I know more about the galaxy and about my villain as well. I certainly enjoy being a "pantser" and creating the story while I draft, but realistically there is much more value in having a clear picture. Although developing this clear picture is very difficult, I feel that the result will be a much better novel. At this point I have written well over 800 pages across multiple drafts. The end result will likely be less than half this amount, but the process is worth it. This is my education in being an author. It needs to be done.
My writing coach and writing group have already helped enormously with the entire process. My premise is still a work in progress, and my draft is a huge mess right now, but I know this mess is better than anything I have done alone.
I wanted to share a website I used today to rewrite my premise. Perhaps you will find it useful, or at least informative. Maybe next time I will start with this!
Fun activity, use this website to write a premise statement for your favorite story/book/movie. Post in the comments below.