I'm excited to share what I learned from Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D. book entitled The Moral Premise Harnessing Virtue & Vice for Box Office Success.
Yes, it is written for screen writers, but I'd say about 95% or more of it is very relevant for novel writers. Over on Seekerville, a guest visitor, agent Natasha Kern, recommended this book to writers, and boy am I glad I took her advice. Seriously consider adding this one to your wish list if you don't already have a copy on hand.
To try and sum it up in a short post won't give it justice, I know. You really need to absorb the concept through reading Williams' book, but I will offer this as a teaser.
The written formula for a moral premise is this:
[Vice] leads to [undesirable consequences], but
[Virtue] lead to [desirable consequences].
[Vise] leads to [defeat]; but [virtue] leads to [success].
The Moral Premise is "a universal truth that can make life better." pg. 161
Right away you can see how having a defined moral premise can aid in the needed conflict in any story. Vice, vice, vice. If you don't have one, find one.
Along with the Moral Premise, Williams goes to great lengths in this book to show how the physical goals of the story must be created so that they are a metaphor for the moral premise of the story, which is really defined by the inner struggle that the characters traverse through the story. Any given story is to be only about one thing--the defined Moral Premise. It's our job as a writer to make everything tie together so that it reveals that key Moral Premise.
I suspect I'll come back to share more on this book, but for now, I'll leave you with this for your weekend pondering. Can your current wip be defined by a moral premise? [Vise] leads to [defeat]; but [virtue] leads to [success]. I'd love to see your moral premises in the comments!
Praying for all to have a blessed weekend with many joyous experiences!
Surrendering to Him,