I’m halfway done this book from an author who specialized in screenwriting, but it’s amazing how much information a writer can glean and apply to writing the romance novel.
A story’s moral premise can also be the theme of the book. Many a time, writers have their premise interwoven into their story without realizing it. It comes as second nature. So this book is also a confirmation of what writers have been doing for centuries. The author goes on to give examples of moral premises through movies and television shows.
Die Hard: Hatred leads to death and destruction, but sacrificial love leads to life and celebration.
Bruce Almighty: Expecting a miracle leads to frustrations; but being a miracle leads to peace.
Also the subject of values is touched on. Some examples that I’ve found that can add conflict are:
humility vs. arrogance
independence vs. dependence
honor vs. dishonor
forgiveness vs. intolerance
loyalty vs. betrayal
See how by adding the opposite of a person’s value, you don’t have to go further for conflict?
Williams goes on to say that many craft books recommend that a person start with characterization first, but he recommends the opposite–starting with the moral premise of your story. That way you have the conflict and motivation already staged, and then working out the kinks of your characters becomes far easier.
This book will be on my shelf for years, and I won’t be lending it out.