what is a premise in writing
Screenwriting Basics,  Screenwriting Tips

What Is a Premise in Writing And How To Find It

What is a premise in writing? It tends to be a mystery, because depending on which screenwriting book you’ll read, you’ll probably find a different explanation of it.

Many people confuse it with logline and use the two words interchangeably. Therefore, a quick google search gives us various results, such as:

Premise is the foundational idea that expresses the plot in simple terms. A good premise will communicate your story’s essence in a one-sentence or two-sentence statement. 

Hey, but that is the logline!

– Are premise and logline the same thing?

– No.

The reason that many people get confused and mix these two up is because the premise is part of the logline. However, the logline is so much more.

The logline is a one or two-sentence statement that expresses the plot of your story, whereas premise is just the first part of the logline.

Usually, it is what makes our story different from others; what makes it unique. This is the element that most of the times, makes our story saleable and interesting and alluring. That’s why the first thing most producers ask is “What’s the premise?”

The Premise is the Promise of your Film

How to find Premise in your Script Writing

One way to find is by using the “What if…” question, for instance:

What if your plane crashed and you had to survive in a deserted island for four years? – That’s the premise of Cast Away.

What if you found a friendly little alien in your backyard? – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 

What if a big family left for Christmas vacations and forgot their little son at home? – Home alone

What if we could clone dinosaurs and create a theme park? – Jurassic Park

While you’re writing your own screenplay try to think what is the most interesting, the most attracting thing in your idea; what is the most unique element of your idea that you don’t see it often in other films. After you find it, try to highlight it and to use it to lure people and producers to love your story. Make this your premise in your writing.

Pump your Premise up

“What if a boy fell in love with a girl” it’s not a good premise. We’ve seen it a thousand times and it’s just not that interesting.

Take it up a notch by using contrasts.

“What if a rich successful man fell in love with a prostitute” is the premise of Pretty Woman.

Check out here the video about Premise in Writing by Scriptwriting tips.

Well, I’d like to read what’s your premises? Put it in the comments down below and vote by liking the other ones you’ll read there.


  • Lia Ferreira

    Hi there Apollonia! I am so glad to co.e across your content. Iam pretty impressed with this definition you gave and makes totally sense for me, still I have some questions about it. For instance this definition applies also for novel writing?

  • Yared

    Hi, teacher!

    I had started writing an account of my own life experience in a failed love affair, and was really stuck with the premise.
    After reading your tips and watching your helpful video, I decided to write the following “What if…” question for my story premise:
    “What if a mature reserved empath widower fell in love with a beautiful young narcissistic married woman?”

    Do you think I got it right?

    I´m looking forward to hearing from you and my colleagues;

    best wishes

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