I read a book on screenwriting written by a gentleman who read screenplays submitted to the Raindance Film Festival.  The author stated in all the submissions he had read, he never found a bad premise, only poorly executed ones.  It is an interesting thought.  To me this means that any idea, no matter how far fetched it may be, has the possibility of becoming a great story.  

Consider the premise that a storyteller continued to tell stories to keep her husband from killing her the next day.  You would have 1001 Arabian Nights.  A very old story indeed.  From that we get Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, not to mention Sinbad the Sailor, each its own story with its own premise, and one executed well enough that it has endured for hundreds of years.  But what if we took the storyteller out of the Persian king's bedroom and placed it in the Soviet Union, in the Black Market, or on Mars?    While each would be a variation of the same premise, it would provide all sorts of unique story lines, each with its own potential for memorable stories.  

The premise, in and of itself, is merely a launching point for your story.  How you 
develop the premise makes all the difference.  Let us return to 1001 Arabian Nights.  If the storyteller had been an old hag instead of a beautiful young virgin, perhaps the king might not have been enchanted with her long enough to hear the first story.  Or what if she had been any enemy agent, or a man?  Each one of these ideas might have worked for today's audiences, but in Persia hundreds of years ago, those story lines would be unthinkable.  If we really wanted to get demented, one could make the beautiful young virgin a male enemy agent from Mars.

So it is down to execution.  That premise alone, while demented, is not enough for a good story, but it does lend itself to enchanting possibilities; however, it is up to the author to develop what would happen.  To a demented elf's way of thinking, take your premise and play a what if game.  Consider different variables.  Make it different, but also understand, premise isn't the story, it is the starting point.


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