Friday, October 19, 2007

Breakout Premise - Part 3


On the surface, this concept seems pretty clear. Is the premise believable? Either it is, or it isn't.

But Maass throws that caring thing into the mix again. (emphasis mine) " . . . we are concerned about the outcome of the story because what is happening to the characters could happen to us."

The key is to find a balance between the ridiculous and the routinely obvious. A suspense novelist--or any novelist for that matter (including fantasy and science fiction), needs to start with something that could be real. But if it's too ordinary there's no excitement. Who cares about someone going to the grocery store? But, what if . . .?

Stephen King is a master of taking the ordinary and giving it a blow-your-socks-off twist. He captures us because we're sucked into something strange and provocative before we know it. After all, we were just going to the grocery store!

Maass closes out the section on plausibility with this: "A premise that is surprising yet credible is one that is far more likely to make us exclaim, 'I wish I had thought of that.'"

What about the book you're reading now, or the one you're writing? Are you intrigued--or are you bored? Do you believe that what is happening could happen to you? Would you care if it did?

It's all better with friends.

Next: Inherent Conflict

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