Concept and Premise In A Story – Tomas Black

Concept and Premise In A Story

I have been trying to write a novel for years, but life, in general, would always seem to frustrate my efforts. I was always too busy with my day job -  my corporate life had me travelling halfway around the globe, and while that sounds glamorous, the reality of business travel can be punishing. I would start to write, lose inspiration or simply get stuck with the plot. Then I'd be back on a plane and working in a foreign location, firefighting one project or starting another and my writing would once more be put on hold.


And it's not that I had any shortage of ideas for a novel, either. In fact, I had too many, with each new idea spanning a different genre. No, I always seemed to hit a road block about a third of the way into the book and things would grind to a halt. So what changed? Simple, I went back to basics and looked more closely at story structure.

Story structure is not new. The idea goes all the way back to Aristotle with the three-act structure. I was always taught that a good story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. But what I probably missed or glossed over is that of concept and premise in a story.

When I started The Omega Sanction as a writing project, I decided it would be a thriller. I like the genre and I've read many examples over the years. My idea was to write about a major financial crime. Having worked in most of the big financial centres around the world, this was a no-brainer. But while this was one idea, it was not a concept. There needed to be more flesh on the bones. So I focused on a specific criminal organisation that had a big problem.

The drug cartels of Central America have a big problem: they have too much money. Specifically, they have billions in 'dirty' money that they must somehow place into legitimate financial institutions without detection. In other words, they need to launder their ill-gotten gains. A criminal mastermind in one of the cartels comes up with a plan to launder billions using a scheme involving smuggled gold bullion. The leaders of all the drug cartels agree to the scheme and a new criminal organisation is established to execute the plan. The new organisation is known simply as the Syndicate. For the Syndicate's plan to work, they need to infiltrate a major gold bullion banking operation in the City of London, where most gold bullion is traded.

There is certainly more flesh on the bones with this expanded version of the original idea and it could probably be called a concept, but I was still missing a trick. So I explored the opposite side of the equation.

In all financial centres around the world, there are government and private organisations that work to combat organised crime and to prevent groups, such as the Syndicate, from laundering their proceeds of crime. It's a huge endeavour. So I created an organisation that specialised in this sort of financial crime and called it Roderick, Olivier and Delaney, or simply the ROD. The ROD organisation hires highly specialised contractors that form teams of investigators that are parachuted into an organisation at a moments notice. Their job is to root out criminal elements and to uncover major frauds. ROD teams may consist of Forensic Accountants, Computer Specialists and Kidnap and Ransom negotiators. There is also ex-military personnel that provide corporate and executive protection services (the muscle).

This is the concept behind The Omega Sanction. So what about the premise? This is when things get personal and when specific characters come into play. In the Omega Sanction, a young rookie ROD investigator, called Jimmy Miller, stumbles upon the massive gold smuggling operation of the Syndicate and the key to defeating them. How can he possibly survive against the combined criminal might of the Syndicate?