Anatomy of a Premise Line
How to Master Premise and Story Development for Writing Success
If a story is going to fail, it will do so first at the premise level. Anatomy of a Premise Line: How to Master Premise and Story Development for Writing Success is the only book of its kind to identify a seven-step development process that can be repeated and applied to any story idea. This process will save you time, money, and potentially months of wasted writing. So whether you are trying to write a feature screenplay, develop a television pilot, or just trying to figure out your next story move as a writer, this book gives you the tools you need to know which ideas are worth pursuing. In addition to the 7-step premise development tool, Anatomy of a Premise Line also presents a premise and idea testing methodology that can be used to test any developed premise line. Customized exercises and worksheets are included to facilitate knowledge transfer, so that by the end of the book, you will have a fully developed premise line, log line, tagline, and a completed premise-testing checklist.
Here is some of what you will learn inside:
- Ways to determine whether or not your story is a good fit for print or screen
- Case studies and hands-on worksheets to help you learn by participating in the process
- Tips on how to effectively work through writer’s block
- A companion website (www.routledge.com/cw/lyons) with additional worksheets, videos, and interactive tools to help you learn the basics of perfecting a killer premise line
Table of Contents
Your First Book in Story Development?; What is Story Development?; The 7-Step Premise Development Process; Step 1: Determine if you Have a Story; Step 2: Map the Invisible Structure of Your Story Idea; Step 3: Write the First Pass of Your Premise Line; Step 4: Determine if Your Premise Is Soft or High Concept; Step 5: Develop the Log Line; Step 6: Finalize the Premise Line; Step 7: Test the Premise and Log Lines; Case Studies: The Godfather; The Great Gatsby; Metamorphosis; Hamlet; Frankenstein; Worksheets and Exercises;
Jeff Lyons is a freelance writer, story editor, script and book doctor, and has worked in
the film, television, and publishing industries for more than two decades helping literally
thousands of screenwriters and novelists tell better stories. He is an instructor through
Stanford University’s Online Writer’s Studio, and is a regular guest lecturer through the
UCLA Extension Writers Program. Jeff’s writings on the craft of storytelling can be found
in leading industry trade magazines like The Writer’s Digest, Script Magazine, and The
"Working with Jeff reminds me of a quote from Michelangelo, 'I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.' Jeff’s tools have helped me develop solid premise and log lines, and to chisel my stories free from the stone. This book will help you do the same."
Michael Perri—Staff Writer, NBC’s - State of Affairs
"After reading Jeff’s terrific book I felt like rushing to my desk, new tools in hand, and fixing all my unsold screenplays. I highly recommend to anyone writing a screenplay or novel."
Nick Castle—Writer/Director, Escape From New York, Hook, August Rush, Last Star Fighter, The Boy Who Could Fly, Tap, Dennis the Menace
"Before, I used to write myself into a corner, but thanks to Jeff Lyons' premise tools now I can see my story’s structure from the outside, to see what's working and what could be stronger. This book will help you draw a map through the story forest, rather than getting lost in the trees. I've used this material with my students with the same beneficial effect as with my own writing. I highly recommend this book."
Malena Watrous—Author, If You Follow Me—Head Instructor Stanford University Online Writers Studio
"There is no book like this in the marketplace. It will help writers, producers, and directors, and save everyone from wasted time writing drafts to find a story. I wish I had this book when I was in film school."
David Jeffery—Producer, Fox’s - Bones, PBS’s – American Family, Lesson Plan
"This is a book for which many of us have been waiting, and if you are at all like me, incorporating Jeff's ideas and guidance into your work can make all the difference."
Barnet Bain—Producer, What Dreams May Come— Writer/Producer, The Celestine Prophecy
"Story structure changed my writing life, and the magician who taught it to me was Jeff Lyons. Every writer on the planet needs coffee, chocolate, and this book!"
Caroline Leavitt—New York Times bestselling author, Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You