Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Plot Thickens II - Premise

I just returned from a short getaway with my two critique partners. We decided to spend a night away from our husbands and concentrate on plotting our next books.

What was really interesting is how our processes differ from each other. Now, I'm a total plotter with scene cards and the like and I start each book with the premise. My critique partner who writes historical romance always starts from the characters and their conflicts. And my third critique partner does something in between: she looks at the characters' backstory, at motivation and conflict and then at the overriding premise.

So, back to premise. What is a premise? Basically it's a sentence about what happens in your book. If you can describe your book in one sentence, you often have a big concept book. Here are some books/movies described in one sentence. See if you can guess what they are:

  1. Archeology professor tries to find the Holy Grail while battling the Nazis
  2. Introvert high school girl in the Pacific Northwest falls in love with a Vampire
  3. Archer steals from the rich and gives to the poor
  4. Vampire with an erection problem finds human female to cure him
  5. Man with amnesia discovers he's an assassin and has to battle against his former employer
Did you get all of them?

  1. Indiana Jones (movie)
  2. Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)
  3. Robin Hood (movie)
  4. Samson's Lovely Mortal (Tina Folsom)
  5. Bourne Identity (movie)
Premise is often how you first hear about a book or a movie, so it's important to make sure there's some hook that makes readers want to know more. I generally start my books from this point. I try to find an interesting concept and then I build everything else around it. Sometimes it's merely a scene in my mind that I think might be interesting, and it morphs into a concept and then a book.

Our plotting getaway was a great success for all three of us. I finished plotting the second book in my new Out of Olympus series (about Greek Gods). I knew I had a few issues in the third act about the motivation of the heroine. I knew what scenes I wanted, but something wasn't working with the motivation behind it. That's where my two critique partners helped. We dissected the heroine and figured out what makes her tick. Suddenly everything fell into place, I changed some of the scenes in Act III around and bada bing bada bang - the plot now works and the actions of the heroine are believable.

On a board with approximately forty scenes over three acts I now have my road map. In December, once I've released Book #3 in my Scanguards Vampires series, I'll start writing.

See you next month,

Tina Folsom
Author of the Scanguards Vampires series and the Out of Olympus series


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