Recommended Read – The Moral Premise by Stanley D. Williams

I’m halfway done this book from an author who specialized in screenwriting, but it’s amazing how much information a writer can glean and apply to writing the romance novel.

A story’s moral premise can also be the theme of the book. Many a time, writers have their premise interwoven into their story without realizing it. It comes as second nature. So this book is also a confirmation of what writers have been doing for centuries. The author goes on to give examples of moral premises through movies and television shows.

Examples are:

Die Hard: Hatred leads to death and destruction, but sacrificial love leads to life and celebration.

Bruce Almighty: Expecting a miracle leads to frustrations; but being a miracle leads to peace.

Also the subject of values is touched on. Some examples that I’ve found that can add conflict are:

humility vs. arrogance
independence vs. dependencw
honor vs. dishonor
forgiveness vs. intolerance
loyalty vs. betrayal

See how by adding the opposite of a person’s value, you don’t have to go further for conflict?

Williams goes on to say that many craft books recommend that a person start with characterization first, but he recommends the opposite–starting with the moral premise of your story. That way you have the conflict and motivation already staged, and then working out the kinks of your characters becomes far easier.

This book will be on my shelf for years, and I won’t be lending it out. J

Lynne Logan

5 responses to “Recommended Read – The Moral Premise by Stanley D. Williams

  1. I had a personal revelation on this subject while attending a recent workshop given by Debbie Macomber. She dissects movies for the premise. And she says the opening scene will often reveal the premise, if we are smart enough to get it. Once she pointed it out I got it;-) She says she has a group of friends who go to the movies togehter with their notebooks. This is really great stuff for writers.


  2. On the Pink Ladies Blog they are having a discussion about finding the core. I have a link to the blog, but not that particular post. I have the link I’m about to leave because it was so interesting I was going to share it.
    It’s about real zombies. But the link will also take you to the other discussion.


  3. They are going to get ping-backs and go who?


  4. Thanks Brit. I always like learning new craft ideas when it comes to writing!


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