Writing Class

By Dewey E Chester - November 2020

Purpose of Premise

Let’s suppose I want to write a story about a frugal character. Shall I make fun of her? Shall I make her ridiculous, or tragic? I don’t know yet. I have only an idea, which is to depict a frugal woman.

Let’s pursue this idea further. Is it wise to be frugal? To a degree, yes. But I do not want to write about a woman who is moderate, who is prudent, who wisely saves for a rainy day. Such a woman is not frugal; she is far-sighted. I am looking for a woman who is so frugal she denies herself bare necessities. Her insane frugality is such that she loses more in the end than she gains.

I now have a premise for my story “Frugality leads to waste.”

The above premise - or for that matter - every good premise is composed of three parts, each of which is essential to a good story.

Let’s examine further, “Frugality leads to waste.” The first part of this premise suggests character - a frugal character. The second part, “leads to,” suggests conflict, and the third part, “waste,” suggests the end of the story. Let’s see if this is so. “Frugality leads to waste.” The premise suggests a frugal person who, in her eagerness to save her money, refuses to pay her taxes. This act necessarily evokes a counter action or conflict from the state, and the frugal person is forced to pay triple the original amount.

“Frugality,” then, suggests character; “leads to” suggests conflict; “waste” suggests the end of the story.

A good premise is a thumbnail synopsis of any good story.

Here are a few other premises:

  • Egotism leads to loss of friends

  • Foolish generosity leads to poverty

  • Ill-temper leads to isolation

  • Craftiness digs its own grave

  • Dishonesty leads to exposure

Although these are only flat statements, they contain all that is required of a well-constructed premise: character, conflict, and conclusion.


By Alice Frances

November 2020

Use of Imagination -

extract from podcast

With robots writing books, how important is the use of imagination in writing, or art

Aristotle describes the rules for the construction of a tragedy: “Tragic pleasure, or catharsis experienced by fear and pity, should be produced in the spectator,” Or, in modern terms; scare the living crap out of your audience.

So, premise, motive, conflict - all essential in any good novel, but what else forms a good story?

Intrigue? Complexity of character? Elegant construction? Gritty realism? (Pyscho? The Talented Mr Ripley? The Portrait?)

It's fun to drop boundaries and write how you like on a subject you choose - no matter how way out. Using your imagination often means seeing the world through the mystical 'third' eye, or stepping wholly into the shoes of your character, and observing through her or his eyes.

On the other hand, those writers deploying open free-flowing diaristic style, beat generation writers such as Kerouac, wrote with glorious abandon - lyrical free-flowing narratives.

Robots are on the rise

Here's the thing. Robots write books - in the field of writing, storytelling and language application, everything is downloadable, accessible, readily available, and easily researchable. Add to that, natural language processing with artificial neural networks learning how to be 'creative', it's uncertain where our human imagination competes with automation and robotics.

To keep our imaginations alive, we need to ponder about far-off things, and even in an age when information is at our fingertips, and robots can write books, there is still so much to wonder about in life, in the world, in the galaxies, et al.

Listen to Alice's podcast on Spotify