1. Our human-rights-attorney story: When the money runs out before the case against his transgendered partner is over, a human rights lawyer joins a prestigious and wealthy law firm not knowing that the managing partner is the devil behind the lawsuit. We decided possible themes included power and empowerment. So perhaps:
Standing up to those in power leads to self empowerment;
cowering to those in power leads to disempowerment.
2. Our diamond bullets story: When his brother’s gang develops a diamond bullet that can penetrate bulletproof vests, a scholarship student must decide whether to help his brother avenge the death of their gang-leader father or protect the father of his girlfriend, the Police Commissioner of New York City. Possible themes included: family, revenge, loyalty, duty. So perhaps:
Acceptance leads to family;
Revenge leads to loss of family.
3. For the concept of the boat disappearing during a government experiment, the themes were secrets, truth, entitlement, indignation.
Indignation leads to truth;
Complacency leads to secrets.
4. Our concept of the guy with a fear of dogs who discovers hope has four legs and a terrible snore had themes of fear or hope.
Facing your fears leads to hope;
Cowering to your fears leads to hopelessness.
5. Our concept of the high school dance troupe who rallies around a wrongfully suspended captain in order to become a karate team to take state had themes of perseverance and friendship, loyalty and determination. Perhaps a value that encompasses all of this is:
Faith leads to gain;
Faithlessness leads to loss.
6. The concept about the inventor who wanted to develop the world’s strongest adhesive but instead developed post-its had themes of invention or creativity, self-confidence or determination. So what about:
Flexibility leads to progress;
Rigidness leads to stagnation.
Now, these premises are pretty general, which the masters advise against, but you have to start somewhere. We, of course, know that a general premise is just a starting point, right? When we develop our own premises, we, of course, will put in more time and effort that I’ve put in here, right? We’ll make our own premises more specific, more particular to our stories, right?
Yes, of course we will.
Good. Then that’s it for me. What about you? How might you make the above premises more specific and more particular to their synopses? And what sort of premises are you working with in your own story?
UP NEXT, ON MONDAY
We’ll dig deeper into thematic premise by looking at how to develop variations on theme.