Give me your tired. your poor, your huddled, boring premises…
I received a terrific question in a in a recent Tweet and I put together a video to answer the question. You’ll find a link to it below.
I was asked if there was a way to find good premises to start writing jokes from:
There’s no sure-fire technique that I know of that can get you great premises to begin with, but I do know how you can take a bland subject and turn it into a curious (at the least) and great (at best) premise that will stimulate laughter.
To be clear, it’s important to understand what a premise is in the first place. A single word is not a premise. A single word–say “dating,” is not quite a premise. In order for it to be a premise there needs to be some context.
It’s okay if you didn’t know this. Not a lot of people do, but it’s one of the main reasons people get stuck writing in the first place. Knowing the difference should open up a world of possibility in your writing.
If you added a modifier, (using the Maxim of the 5 W’s Who? What? Where? Why? When? and How? to help you get there), then you have a premise.
If you just say “dating,” there is no context, but if you add What? How? When? Who?, then dating takes on a new connotation.
For example, what if we applied “When?”
Then we might have something like:
Dating at 55 vs. Dating at 25.
You can already feel the premise taking shape, can’t you?
You can also incorporate your point-of-view, or an angle (usually discovered by exploring your attitude toward the subject) to help you find your premise and a strong emotion to support it.
Attitude might be something like, Dating at 55 is so much more difficult than dating at 25.
Now that you added an attitude you can see even more possibility with the premise.
That’s what this video deals with. So take a look at it and don’t forget, you can always leave a comment for clarification. I love to help!
So try this yourself. Take a subject. Then give it context and a point of view and see if it helps you take a bland premise and turn it into some good material.