How to Firm Up the Mushy Middle in Any Story

Every novel, or work of creative nonfiction, starts with an abundance of ideas and energy, and maybe even knows where it is going in the end. But somewhere along the way the ideas lag, the energy drains, and that promising ending feels farther and farther away. Welcome to the mushy middle, that bleak wasteland where many stories languish when promising beginnings lose connection to satisfying endings. But there is a process that can ensure a strong middle throughline for any story. This workshop will teach you the two-key story-structure engines needed for any story’s middle, and the two essential character patterns needed to build a character’s arc through that middle, resulting in a solid narrative center that will support any story. These engines and patterns work together to not only assure a narrative throughline that avoids episodic or meandering writing, but that also gives you a repeatable process that will produce solid middles for any story you might write in the future. Say goodbye to the mushy middle, and hello to stories that work.


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:

Anatomy of a Premise Line: How to Master Premise & Story Development

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

Logline Mastery: How To Nail The Pitch