Sunday, November 1, 2009

On "Cab Ride" by David Moss (3007 words) ***

Sometimes, a premise is so good it's hard not to write a decent story based on it. I remember once, in a creative writing class, being given just such an assignment. That is, the teacher supplied the premise, and we wrote the story. But virtually anyone writing a story based on that premise, I'd venture to guess, wrote a decent one.

What is a good premise? That's a great question, I'm realizing. I mean, there are plenty of stories that are told over and over again--the story of the washed-up sports player trying to recover his past glory; the story of a relationship breaking up; the story of someone's relative dying. But these don't necessarily make great stories. For one, the story ideas are so common that it's hard to recreate them as something new. For two, the ending is too predictable. The washed-up sports player either will or won't succeed. The relationship will break up--and the person will feel bad about it or maybe will come to feel better about it. A good premise doesn't offer just one or two endings. A good premise promises to take us in any number of directions, promises unpredictability.

"Cab Ride" is a story that works basically on this principle--the great premise. I could see this premise used in something much longer, a novel, a movie. In fact, in a way, it has--I'm thinking of North by Northwest. A man is kidnapped in a case of mistaken identity. What happens? Will he discover who he's supposed to be? Who is that person? Will he get away? Will he get killed? Will he get turned over to the authorities for a ransom even though he isn't who he's supposed to be? Lots of possibilities here. Read the direction in which Moss takes the premise here at Thug Lit.

No comments: