A Few Thoughts To Help You Make Your Story Better Out of the Gate (Which Is Your Head)
But first… you are invited to read an interview running on Authornomics… with me. There’s some value there, in that it illuminates the sometimes long and winding road that becomes the path to publication. In my case, my latest novel, Deadly Faux.
It took nine years. Just sayin’.
Things To Remember
There is a difference between concept and premise. Sometimes it’s hard to spot, but it’s always there.
It is a difference not easily reconciled because the terms have become — disastrously so — interchangeable, even among those who operate at the highest levels of the business (agents and editors.)
But WE need to know. There are plenty of posts on this topic here.
I”m not saying you must have a high concept story. But know this: without a strong concept, the story relies, almost solely in most cases, on character and theme. The two toughest things to pull off.
Dramatic tension — conflict — is what drives fiction. In all genres. Sometimes it’s subtle, but it’s always there… in stories that work.
Why are character and premise so tough, if you try to position them as the engine of a story? Because writers make the mistake of believing they can write about those things — character and theme… especially theme — directly, rather than allowing them to emerge from a dramatic story arc.
If you can really understand what that last sentence means, you are heading in a very healthy storytelling direction.
Those types of conflict-free stories tend to be “the adventures of X’ tales, a series of scenes that show: the prejudice in a town… in tolerance in a family… the toxicity of past abuse… the consequences of bad parents. In other words, theme.
Theme is good, but best when it is the outcome of a dramatic arc.
If your story is about “showing how my hero discovers themselves after X,” and you don’t have a specific story arc that is dramatic in nature, the story could be at risk. Your intentions are well-placed, but you need more.
These two things — the relationship between concept and premise, and the nature of a theme-driven story that has no dramatic arc (giving your hero a specific problem to address, with a specific antagonist that represents the issue, rather than the issue itself being the villain) are huge.
Wrapping your head around them will put you in the top ten percent of authors submitting work for publication… right out of the gate.
The offer is still open: buy my new novel, Deadly Faux, send me the online receipt (or the name of the bookstore), and I’ll send you my soon-to-be-done craft ebook using the book as a deconstruction laboratory. See the plot points and story beats where they reside, and why, and understand how concept and premise are both in evidence, yet remain different and hierarchical.
Opt-in at firstname.lastname@example.org. The ebook will be ready in a week or two. Let the transparency begin.