Story Concept and Premise

So, what is the difference between story concept and story premise?

Lately, I’ve focused my writing research on this fascinating topic, including the examination of my story ideas for validity as story premises.  Stay tuned for some examples!

It turns out, writing terminology is not quite as standardized as the terms in my former profession of software engineering. Not too surprisingly, I suppose, but it does make grasping the subtle differences a little more challenging.

I’m going with the definitions as posed in an article by K.M. Weiland over at her excellent site, Helping Writers Become Authors.  I also gleaned some help from Jennifer Blanchard’s website.

So, as far as my own stories go, take my medical nanites idea:

In a future interstellar society, medical nanites are prohibited.

I’ve developed that idea into two different premises with character, goal, conflict, and, hopefully, motivation.

The first:

In a future world a brave paramedic desperate to save a life uses proscribed medical nanites to save a crash victim and has to go on the run to escape governmental authorities and make it off-planet.

The second.

In a future world, when a scared, poor young soldier bravely uses proscribed medical nanites on the battlefield to save a fallen comrade, he is found out and faces a court-martial and a dishonorable discharge.

I’m rather happy about how those two premises worked out. Who knows? Maybe someday I will re-write Out of the Blue.

Over the last few months I did conclude Sifa and Peter is rather a complex novel to write as a first novel, but the concept-premise exercise really drove that home.  My idea could be described two different ways:

Young woman comes-of-age: romance, secrets, family


Members of a family face secrets, old and new, as they come to terms with their past and their future

Developing a premise from that, I came up with

A young woman damaged by her childhood and too eager to please, as well as a mother grieving from a damaging and traumatic genetic legacy and a hard-working but selfish cousin, come together in during a family member’s crisis, coming to terms with not only family secrets but their past, their flaws, and the true desires of their hearts.


You can see how we have not only the main protagonist, but two strong, well, sub-protagonists, if that’s a word!  We also have internal conflict for each character (eager to please, overcoming grief, overcoming selfishness) but also external conflict (dealing with family secrets, dealing medical conditions, each other’s flaws).

There may be too much going on in this novel, don’t you think?

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