Remembering that the premise is a microscopic form of the story itself, Egri suggests we formulate our premise and start our story at a crisis point, which will be the turning point in our main character’s life.
In Ghosts, by Ibsen, for example, the basic idea is heredity. The play grew out of a Biblical quotation, which is the premise: “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children.” Every action, every bit of dialogue, every conflict in the play, arises out of this premise.
Egri states that the correct way to start a story is to involve your main character in conflict. Conflict not only drives the story forward, but it is the quickest way of revealing character in the shortest time.
Forcing opposing characters together is the best way of establishing conflict. Opposing characters should be militant, passionate, and active about their positions. Egri calls this process orchestration.
Optimist vs. pessimist
Miser vs. spendthrift
Honest vs. dishonest
Loyal vs. disloyal
Believer vs. non-believer
Agapi vs. Erotas
Militantly opposing characters make conflict inevitable. Two perfectly orchestrated characters will oppose, or, perhaps, even destroy each, other depending on circumstances, turning your story into a page turner.
Although opposing characters form the foundation of any good story, you should, before you start, determine why one simply cannot walk out on the other, while the conflict rages. Determine the precise nature of the unbreakable bond that keeps them together until the climax: is it revenge, hate, jealousy, pain?
Lastly, remembering that the premise is a microscopic form of the story itself, you should formulate your premise at a crisis point, which will be the turning point in your main character’s life.
Pit two actively opposing types of characters against one another—characters that are forced together in an unbreakable union, and as they struggle to break their bonds, they will spontaneously generate rising conflict and create the story in the process.
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