What's missing is the unique twist. The hook. The aspect of a premise that grabs you, makes it sound interesting. This is the bit that will really define your character and their world and make it worth writing to you. And let's be honest--until now, it probably hasn't been that interesting. Right? You've heard all those plots before.
To continue the example, let's make this premise unique. Let's try and do something completely different.
Say our MC's superpower gives them the ability to know when someone will die, before it happens. A classic plot is about the character's journey to try and prevent people's deaths. In our version, what if the MC sells their power as a service--preventing the death of those who can pay? It switches up our entire premise. We could start extrapolating from here, and get a whole new plot, all new conflicts.
Or, perhaps our character can teleport. We could make them thieves. But what if instead of robbing banks, they join the police force, they solve crimes on their own. We could try a genre mashup: the editor of a highschool-paper can reads minds and uses their ability to write an "anonymous" gossip column, ala Gossip Girl meets Smallville.
This all sounds a little more interesting, yeah?
Premature story death –
- Sometimes if you’ve attempted something that you can’t seem to execute, the story can waffle and fail. That may mean your premise needs work. Or maybe it’s time to abandon a non-functioning aspect of your premise. At other times, it means you wandered away from a core aspect of your premise that you need to return to. It’s important to learn when to abandon a premise, and when to stick to it.
Loss of interest –
- Other times, you come up with a story concept that has a great hook, but it’s not exciting to write about. Evaluate what about your premise isn’t engaging you. Should your MC change ages, is the setting wrong, do you need an emotional climate versus a political one? Backtrack and try a new direction.
Not knowing how to explore a premise—
- This I think, is the worst of all. How many books can you think of that had a great premise, buy wandered away from it in the writing? A good premise foreshadows the MC’s journey, goals, conflicts, and climax. If your story shifts focus or doesn’t explore the premise in writing, go back to your original premise, and consider what natural building blocks it suggests. Did you follow through those? Or did you start writing on a tangent?