Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Premise for a Premise

The Premise for a Premise

Lisa Yoskowitz, the editor from Dutton, has volunteered to provide us with first page reviews during her break-out session at the conference. This is where she will take the first pages of the manuscripts you submit, same day, and tell you her impressions. The first page of a manuscript is very important. It should present the reader with, among other things, the premise for your work.

What is a premise, anyway? It is the crux of what we are saying, the specific concept we are trying to communicate. It is where we as authors draw our conclusions and where we take our audiences. As writers or illustrators, the art we create meets our audiences on the premise we build.

The word ‘premise’ has multiple definitions. It is also defined as ‘a tract of land or building, together with its grounds.’ In law, a premise is ‘a basis, stated or assumed on which reasoning proceeds.’ Both these definitions apply to the world of writing and illustrating children’s books.

Our premise becomes the place we meet with our reader. It must be an intriguing set-up or situation that makes people want to turn the page. It should inspire us and intrigue us.

From our premise we create our world. From our premise we present our case. From our premise we either reach or fail to reach those we are speaking to.

A premise should have a character, a conflict and a hook. It should reveal a larger world. Fill your premise with an idea that jumps out at you, and make sure it is passionate. Ask yourself if your premise can be understood by the child you are trying to reach.

As you get ready for the conference, prepare your first pages and make sure they have a solid premise. Ask yourself if it is a premise that will draw your audience in or push them out. Good luck and I’ll see you on the conference premises.

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