Anatomy of a Premise Line: How to Master Premise and Story Development for Writing Success

If a story is going to fail, it will first do so at the premise level. Knowing how to create, design, and validate any story idea are essential skills every writer needs in their toolbox. The premise line is the only reliable tool that can tell you, BEFORE you start writing, whether or not your story will work on the page. It is your canary in the coal mine and when fully mastered can save you time, money, and months of unproductive work. In this workshop participants will learn what a story is and isn’t, passive vs active protagonists, the difference between a story and a situation, the narrative engine that drives any story, and the seven-step premise line process. Students will have ample opportunities to pitch their stories in class and work one-on-one to test their premise ideas. This is a short but incredibly empowering workshop that will literally transform how you write and develop stories in the future.


Jeff Lyons is a traditionally published fiction/nonfiction author, screenwriter, and story development consultant in the film, television, and publishing industries. He has worked with major studios like NBCU and Columbia Pictures, and leading independent producers and film and television production companies. He is an instructor through Stanford University's Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing and guest lectures through the UCLA Extension Writers Program.


Jeff is a regular contributor and advisor to leading entertainment industry screenwriting and producing fellowship programs, such as the Producers Guild of America's "Power of Diversity Master Producers Workshop," and the Film Independent Screenwriting Lab, and is a regular workshop presenter at leading writing industry conferences such as the Dallas-Ft. Worth Writers Conference, Romance Writers of America, StoryExpo, Great American Pitchfest among many others.

His clients have won major literary prizes like the “William Faulkner Gold Medal,” and include New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors. Jeff has written on the craft of storytelling for Writer’s Digest Magazine, Script Magazine, The Writer Magazine, and Writing Magazine (UK).

His book, Anatomy of a Premise Line: How to Master Premise and Story Development for Writing Success was published by Focal Press in 2015 and is currently going through a revised 2nd edition rewrite. His book Rapid Story Development: How to Use the Enneagram-Story Connection to Become a Master Storyteller was published by Focal Press in October 2020, and his third book with Focal Press will be published in 2024, The Story-Subplot Connection: How to Develop Subplots for Screenwriters and Novelists.

His feature film, American Thunderbolt, is currently being produced by Content Kings Films (UK), along with several other of Jeff’s TV and feature projects that have been optioned for development.

Other classes at Story Expo by Jeff:

Logline Mastery: How To Nail The Pitch

The Moral Premise: How To Find, Build & Execute The Narrative Engine...

Firm Up The Mushy Middle of Any Story