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Making And Keeping Promises In Your Writing

Written by: Adrea Peters, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Story always begins with a promise. The underlying promise of ALL stories (yes, ALL) is change. Transformation from not having something to having it at the end. A further promise, and required, if you comprehended that last sentence, is that a story requires a solid beginning, a thorough middle and an end that reflects fulfillment of the initial promise.

If you look up promise in a dictionary it speaks of a promise being a declaration that someone will do a particular thing or a particular thing will happen. It is also described as the potential of an experience. I mishmash the two when it comes to story… the potential for something incredible to happen.

In the middle of a story we push, press, fight, surrender, battle, reach, stretch and grind our way toward that potentiality.

In the end, we circle back to the original promise and see that we have surpassed what we could have imagined.

A defined promise is called the premise. It’s your working hypothesis… this is possible… and off you go in your book, to show that your premise is true. Or not true, depending on your point of view and style. What do I mean by that? You may start your book with a bad guy getting away with something or a person without any knowledge of XYZ. You will then take the reader on a journey to catch that bad guy or inform that person of XYZ.

The steps of story have been around for centuries. Easiest credit given to Aristotle in his Poetics from 350 B.C. I’d argue cave drawings depict story. It is in our DNA at this point. We know these steps. We follow them constantly in our everyday life, therefore, if we want to connect with our readers and sell our book(s), it behooves us to employ them.


The beginning and the end are short, making up maybe ten percent of your book. The middle is where the focus needs to be. The key to an excellent middle: OBSTACLES. List out every possible stumbling block your character/reader will hit.

The trick to discovering the best obstacles for your character/reader/client is deep diving on who they are. This is what the middle of you book is devoted to! In a novel, the main character (protagonist) is someone you want your reader to love, adore, fight for, be concerned about, and want to be. Same for a non-fiction offering. What does your reader need to know or else? In my next article, Illumination is Not by Accident, I will offer a ton of insight on this topic.

The middle contains the follow key events:

  • Right now. A technicolor review of life at this very moment for the main character or curious non-fiction reader. This sets up the current FOUNDATION that will be shattered or at minimum, shifted at the end of the story. Remember, we are taking our character/reader from not having what they desire to having it. That. Is. Story.

  • REJECTION of anything new. I think of this as “no way, no how”. Yes, they asked for it. They dreamed of being someone else or somewhere else and now that they may be able to become it, they freak out. We all do. It’s human nature.

  • FAILURE+SUCCESS+BIGGER FAILURE. This is the tough part and often missed by writers. We fail, we try again, we succeed, then we fail bigger, we quit. That’s how life is, and therefore how your story needs to evolve for people to connect to your work.

  • HELP ARRIVES and the character/reader often rejects it (see above). Until and unless, they let help in, we will stay in that failure/success paradigm without reaching our end goal. They (we) need help to soar.

  • CONFESSION. Once your character has support, has a trusted source of some sort, they share themselves fully.

  • Surprisingly enough, once they have help/support, they UNRAVEL from their old ways. After several failures and only a few successes, we quit. Sometimes a massive perceived failure occurs here. For the character/reader, it feels like everything is over. Life has to fall apart and be put back together again. It is often in a smaller subset… a part of life… marriage/partnership, death, illness, job/career, talent… in a book.

  • Soon after the Confession and Unraveling, the main character/reader is ALL IN. This can be big or subtle in terms of action. This is more of an internal shift. It is now IMPOSSIBLE for the main character/reader to go back to Today. They now have a NEW FOUNDATION. (The end is a celebration of this.)

Make a promise to your readers (and yourself), show them what it takes to get there, and keep your promise in the end. Take them on a journey from not having what they want and need, to almost having it many times, then getting it in a way that far exceeds all they could have ever dreamed.

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Adrea Peters, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Adrea Peters is an award-winning author with a unique focus on endless possibilities. Her exuberant knowledge of story and its connection to the physics of us makes every offering she delivers mind-blowingly expansive. She wants YOU to understand YOU and how to let your stories reflect that. Both her fiction and non-fiction offer playful insight on how life works, how relationships suffer and bloom, and how we, as humans, always have triumph awaiting us. In addition to writing, Adrea worked for a Fortune 35 company before starting her consulting firm where she has helped many colleagues soar equal to the characters in her stories. Her mission: For each and every one of you to know that you are a unique, one-of-a-kind human being living an extraordinary life.



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