Saturday, September 19, 2009

Secrets of Bestseller Premises Part 2

In the first part of this topic, Secrets of Bestseller Premises Part 1, I wrote about culling the world around you for blockbuster story ideas. This time I want to deepen the conversation.

To truly craft an unforgettable premise, it's often necessary to discover new and surprising conflicts. In other words, unique ways for characters to interact, relate and fight each other.

Begin by listing the most common plot devices in your genre. What has been done before? How has it been done? Where has it been done? When (historical novels, etc)?

Then brainstorm all the possible changes to those old, worn ideas. What if the main character was a female instead of a male? The desert instead of the city, the jungle instead of the country, underwater instead of space? What if the conflict erupted between two doctors rather than two cowboys, two brothers instead of two strangers, two kids instead of two adults? What if it happened in the future instead of the past?

You can change just about anything in an old idea and come up with a brand new idea that you can use to rouse readers.

In romances, you can change the way the couple meets and the challenges that keep them apart until the end. With mysteries, the villain and murder weapon often change, sometimes the expertise of the detective changes, too.

How can you take an old idea and turn it on it's head? How can you combine plot ideas in new, surprising ways?

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