Time to Write Now By Julaina Kleist-Corwin

About Writing Plus

A Story’s Promise Involves A Human Need

Stories    at work traffic signIn a previous post, I explained the difference between a hook and a promise .  The  promise, directly or indirectly or through metaphor, is  on the first page of a story.  If you want to review the examples I gave click here.

The promise runs through the novel or short story to a satisfying resolution. Satisfying does not mean happily ever after unless you are writing in the Romance Genre. Story lines can end sadly or happily as long as the reader feels fulfilled by the ending and the resolution makes sense. Romeo and Juliette ended with the deaths of both of them, a sad outcome but understandable.  All the actions in the plot relate to the story’s promise. When the promise consists of resolving a human need such as becoming brave, learning to forgive, gaining respect, maintaining honesty, etc., the reader engages  deeply with the story.

My previous post showed an example of my essay titled “Life Support” where the hook is will the child in the hospital survive.  The promise is a teacher visits a special needs child/student in the hospital. She hopes this one will survive since not long ago, another student didn’t.

The arc rose with events involving

  • morphine that wasn’t working
  • the child in constant pain
  • life support decisions  to be made
  • teacher consults with mother who, with the child’s father, meet with their priest
  • life support is stopped.

A sad resolution but an understandable one based on the promise of the story. Survival is a human need. In this case the child’s need and the parents’ choice to let her survive in horrific pain or to stop the life support, and “Let go and let God” as the priest advised. He came to the hospital with the parents when the machines were unplugged.

What is the promise in your WIP (work in progress)?


In a future post, we will look at promise and premise.



Julaina Kleist-Corwin

Editor of Written Across the Genres

Author of soon-to-be-released Hada’s Fog


  1. ladywinfred says:

    Nice clarification of an elusive component to a successful/satisfying story. Thanks.

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