Magical Words: Plot vs Premise

Photo by Vale Zmeykov on Unsplash

Tax season has started, so today is short and sweet. “Distinguishing between Plot and Premise” by NYT bestselling author Carrie Ryan, posted to Magical Words on April 2, 2012.

What is Plot and what is Premise – and are you confusing the two?

As seems to have been removed after remaining up for half a decade, let me summarize the post for you.

Premise is short. Someone asks you “What is your story about?”, and you break out your elevator pitch. Let’s use Above the Crowd as the example. “Aliens kidnap Earth women as a reward for battle/sport entertainment slaves, but the women are not docile nor happy to remain as slaves.”

Plot is more a synopsis, the series of events creating the book arc. How the women feel waking up, the men choosing their women, the women discovering their purpose and going “all the nope”, both of them adjust to each other and falling in love, both of them sneaking the new tech for eventual escape, the aliens reacting, etc.

You need to know the distinction between premise and plot, as you might fall in love with a premise, but it just doesn’t work as a story – the premise goes nowhere.

Make sure, when you write, you don’t just have a wonderful world-building fact, but a story to build around it.

Find out, you may be able to hunt down the Magical Words post in one of those “we save the entire internet” sites – URL used to be

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