Is there a crack in the foundation?

story structure Sep 27, 2022

A strong premise is what delivers the storytelling—and it starts before page one. 

I am just loving working with the new cohort of Path of the Storyteller students! What a terrific group. In our early explorations we’re taking story beginnings apart in a step-by-step way.

Which brings us to today’s question: How—and when—does a story truly begin?

My answer? Long before page one. In fact, your storytelling begins before anything happens at all. 

Just as a farmer must prepare the soil before the first seed is planted, your first job as a writer is to conceive of a central character in a circumstance that does not merely allow a story to begin, but demands it. The situation is unsustainable. Something has to change.

I call this the crack in the foundation.

Failure to conceive of a premise that rises from this core instability is going to cause problems all along the way. What looks like first act confusion, second act doldrums, and third act wimpiness can often be traced back to a starting position that just didn't have enough tension in it to begin with. 

Stories are about change, and a clever storyteller makes sure that the unmistakable need for change is baked into the very premise of the tale. How do we do this? That’s the topic of this talk.

Good writing is my jam! Put me on the mailing list, please.


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