Re: Check My Premise Line (Objective Feedback Please)

#1
I back when I thought about turning writing into a full time job, I always thought about trying to get my short stories published so that I could make money off them. Now that I'm sure that writing is more of a passion and a hobby, I've given up on ever making something that could become a fully fledged book. 

However, thanks to RoyalRoad, I now want to actually try and make a story that people really like, is interesting, fun, and people feel like they would pay money for. So, that's what I'm doing.

I've figured out a Premise Line for my story and would like to get it critic. I'm looking for primarily objective critic, as I need to find out if this is a good Premise Line and thus a good story, or if I have to go back to the drawing board. 

Here's the line:

When a hopelessly alone, military veteran is stranded on an oceanic, alien world, he teams up with an adventurous alien scout to deal with the xenophobic, hostile alien populace, so that he can get off the planet, until a planet wide war breaks out, forcing the marine to put a stop to the war so he can go home.

Does it work for you? Do you "see" the whole story or at least get a picture of it? Does it pull you in? Can you see the beginning, middle, and end? Would you write this yourself if you came up with the idea? 

Any answers or general critic are welcome!

Re: Check My Premise Line (Objective Feedback Please)

#2
A great many stories have an MC with that background, a former military, etc. It is convenient because it gives them toughness and skills. On the other hand, the character who has a humble motivation, well, it is harder to make them wanted something very strongly, and go all out fighting for it. Consequently, it may be difficult to create the stakes, as in your readers will keep asking you 'why should I care if he gets off the planet or not?' 'what's the worse that would happen if he does not get off the planet?'

A quirky alien sounds good, but you are not explaining how quirky/adventurous. 

The rest is just a bit too generic, but I am not a big fan of a human proving to them aliens how the human values are the best in the Galaxy. 

But, you shared three paragraphs — it could be an excellent story, depending on how you write it. 

You could try to compose an elevator pitch, the two-three liner that sells it to anyone on a ride with you in an elevator & give comparisons, like Waterworld meets Mad Max or something.

Re: Check My Premise Line (Objective Feedback Please)

#3

Quote:When a hopelessly alone, military veteran is stranded on an oceanic, alien world, he teams up with an adventurous alien scout to deal with the xenophobic, hostile alien populace, so that he can get off the planet, until a planet wide war breaks out, forcing the marine to put a stop to the war so he can go home.


Way too long for a single sentence.

Quote:Stranded on an oceanic planet and turned into pariah by the hostile and xenophobic populace, the military veteran finds unexpected help. An adventurous scout agrees to help him find a way home, but the news of an incoming world wide war force the marine to choose between selfish escape and ending the war.

Re: Check My Premise Line (Objective Feedback Please)

#5
Take what I say with a pinch of salt. This plot is overused, I can see it working but I can't see much that will make that story distinct. Maybe that soldier is not what he seems, maybe he is not who he thinks he is. Why is he stranded in the first place, did he meet that alien scout by coincidence? There are many ways that story could go and is on you to make the most of it, any plot no matter how common sounding need only a bit of imagination to take completely different direction from the one we think will be.
That plot does not say much and while I stand by my opinion of it being a common sounding one, it is the character and the world itself that is really important. You should give life to your characters and give them a personality, goals, likes and dislikes that you will not try to change by force, draw the world on paper, give it substance and give it laws introduce the characters and just let it write itself and then whatever plot you will think about will be changed by the world itself.

Re: Check My Premise Line (Objective Feedback Please)

#6
Is military veteran the primary character trait of the MC? To me that's a turn off, because I've seen too many characters like that be mind numbingly boring. Veterans can be some of the most interesting characters... but from all the times I've seen it be little more than an excuse for how he knows how to do things.

So how about something like a father, getting on in years, who spent a stint in the artillery during wartime? He has some regret, from that one time the shots fell on their own lines - and had to watch men fight and die through the lenses of his binoculars. 

Still plenty of survival skills and general know-how but deviating from the cliche modern soldier, and ill suited to the situation. More conflict, less cliche. And if he's a father then we know why he wants to go back. Building the why into the premise is probably good (survival?).

"he teams up with an adventurous alien scout to deal with the xenophobic, hostile alien populace, so that he can get off the planet"

Interesting. I'd make the scout xenophobic too, but she wants to work with the him because she's obsessed with knowledge and the unknown (gollum level obsession).

"until a planet wide war breaks out, forcing the marine to put a stop to the war so he can go home. "

meh. A war that never begins is hollow. Like superman saving the world from some arbitrary world-threatening... threat. Ok, so the generic stop-a-war isn't that bad, but it tends that way. So. What makes your war tangible?

OTOH, if the war is ongoing...then the MC can fail to end it early in the story, with consequences. Yet it won't interfere with ultimately attaining peace, or with returning home . He'd be a good guy, but not an omnipotent one with perfect timing.

The thing about war in novels is that characters living despite it is more interesting than the possibility of it. There are so many ways to use it. In my own novel I use the concept of an armistice without a peace treaty - so there's an expectation for it and conflict around preparing for it. If you do use war as a theme, do think hard about how it (or the fear of it) influences the people in your world. 

Re: Check My Premise Line (Objective Feedback Please)

#7
TheImperial Wrote: Does it work for you? Do you "see" the whole story or at least get a picture of it? Does it pull you in? Can you see the beginning, middle, and end? Would you write this yourself if you came up with the idea? 

Any answers or general critic are welcome!

You know of the words that are the red flag screaming 'generic below-average writing'? 'Xenophobic' in the story descripton is one of them.

It doesn't work for me. I can see the story. It doesn't pull me in. Why would I need to see the middle and end in a story description? That's called spoiling. Maybe if I was still in the first class of high school.

A piece of advice from me, don't make the general themes of our world the main 'selling point' of a story. They can be a part of your story itself, by all means, but it's nothing innovative or interesting to advertise in the story description by saying that you're writing about 'xenophobia' or 'racism' or 'sexism', unless your story is a satire, heh.

Also, sure 90% of the story if not more is the execution. However, a rather boring overall theme is all what you gave us to work with, so I can only give feedback on that.

Re: Check My Premise Line (Objective Feedback Please)

#8
Wow. Thank you all for your responses.

For some reason I wasn't getting notifications for this thread, and that's why I didn't try and reply.

Here's what I've gotten so far from the feedback, and sorry if I miss anything anyone's said:


1. Sound generic.
2. Too much given away already.
3. Too wordy.
4. Might be better as an elevator pitch.

I'm currently in the Brain Storming phase, so that's kind of what I expected. I have been working on the Brain Storming elsewhere, and I've got something better revised for the most part. I do have an idea of how things start and end, but the middle is something that I want to write out as it goes. Gonna take some more time to refine everything before I actually start writing the first chapter.

Here's the revised Premise Line:

Quote:A wounded space marine teams up with a native alien to end a conflict on an his planet so he can return to Earth.

Re: Check My Premise Line (Objective Feedback Please)

#9
1) There's no such thing as "objective criticism" for quality. Though I can objectively say that the grammar in this premise is a bit iffy and you gotta make sure your commas are correct.

2) The premise is very vague! You want to sell this story to readers, so you gotta write something that will really interest them. Here's a guide on how to write a logline (fancy word for a story premise). You should check this out, and study the short descriptions that authors use on, say, Web Fiction Guide listings.

3) Make sure your story isn't too close to Enemy Mine lol (it's a very good book and an excellent movie though, so I recommend checking it out whenever writing about cross-cultural sci-fi stories)