Writing Class

The Purpose of Premise

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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.

I wrote a screenplay at the City College of Los Angeles, under the direction of professor Tom Stempel, called “The Last Spring.” I then carried this script to UCLA and to USC where I adapted it into a novel called “Boomer.” Along the way, I found the premise of my story was this: “Within racially Segregated America, a great love defies even death.”

Boomer was rejected by Hollywood producers and mainstream New York book editors, but I found an overseas editor of a popular Fine Arts magazine (‘Yareah’) in Madrid, Spain, who offered to publish weekly excerpts of Boomer over a two-year period.

Attached are reviews from an audience of readers. In 2015, I entered this story in an American Library Association contest and it was awarded the top read novel in the state of Ohio collection of fiction books.

This year, 2020, I was awarded an Emmy television Nomination for the portrayal of a Writer who has struggled to get his work recognized by a larger American audience.

Workshop Your Writing

A Journey of Imagination

writing Class image by Giorgio Travato

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 *!!* out of your audience. Advice that still rings true today!
So, premise, motive, conflict - all essential ingredients and good moving parts in any novel, but what else do we seek in story?
Intrigue? Complexity of character? Elegant construction? Gritty realism? (Pyscho? The Talented Mr Ripley? The Portrait?)

You will have your specific style, genre, or literary affiliation, but it's fun to drop boundaries and write how you like on any subject. Perhaps try seeing the world through your mystical 'third' eye, or step wholly into the shoes of your character, and see the world through her eyes.
Beat generation writers deployed stream of consciousness, typing their manuscripts on the go with glorious abandon, and producing lyrical free-flowing narratives.

PurcellPress's mission is to help you to find your inner writer - our publishing platform is open to all genres, creeds and persuasions.


Robots are on the rise, and the world is changing rapidly. Automation is the new by-word for work and industry.

writing class Allowing our minds to dream

writing class

Word from our managing director (above) portentious tone: "Automation is all well and good, but remember, we cannot advance the cause of literature without the creative use of the imagination".

Or without the creative use of language, fair or foul.

James Joyce once declared, "mistakes are the portals of discovery".

Okay, here we are in the hyper-tech age, and yet on these pages and in our press, we will attempt to keep the free-wheeling human imagination alive.

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