On Saturday, I participated in an annual tradition: I watched the Oscar animated shorts with my husband and my friend. Just to give y’all a heads-up: most of them are really depressing.
But that’s not what this is about. Oh no, this is about one animated short in particular: Blind Vaysha. The film is about a girl who can see the past with one eye and the future with another. Basically, she is never really in the present. As a result, her life is really miserable.
And that’s it.
That is what the film is about.
Is that a plot?
It is a premise. It is actually a very interesting premise, but it is not a story. It is a beginning.
The film briefly mentioned that men her age courted her, but she could only see them as babies or old men. The narrator said she could never find a man who combined her two different visions so she could see the present.
I got excited. I expected her to go on a journey to find the man who could accomplish this. Sure, it might be a little anti-feminist, but it would be a story.
Instead, she sits in a room and does nothing. Nothing happens.
How does this apply to you and your novel?
Make sure you have a plot and not a premise.
An easy way to distinguish between the two is to ask yourself: “Is anything happening?” If the answer is “no,” then you need to develop your premise into the plot. Make your character want something. Throw obstacles in his or her way of getting that something (aka conflict).
Basically, get your protagonist out of the house. Have the character actually do something.
Then you will have a whole story instead of a beginning.
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