The Story Grid:
What Good Editors Know
by Shawn Coyne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
So, every so often I throw in a nonfiction book, because I’m still trying to get this whole “writing books” thing down. 😉 As usual, I had a hard time digesting this book.
It was so worth it. While I’m not a fan of the thriller genre, specifically, and parsing the The Silence of the Lambs was not my particular cup of tea (as I’ve never read/watched/or otherwise tried to enjoy such a dark story, and I don’t think I would enjoy it, despite it’s brilliant structure and innovative take on genre conventions), I found some things that really helped my understanding of mapping out my story.
(And if you’re not into the thriller genre, Shawn does have Pride and Prejudice: Story Grid Edition, which I may eventually pick up if I need to further my understanding of the Story Grid.)
First, the foolscap method. While there are still some parts that are a bit murky, I appreciate the fact that this beautifully lays out the sequence of Story. This is the path the Story must take in order to make sense, to keep the reader engaged and keep the scenes moving in the right direction. I don’t think that’s ever really explained, as he calls it the plot. And it kind of is, but not in the fully realized scene-by-scene way that a plot needs.
Second, the metrics he uses to map out the story and all that it entails is brilliant. Still hard to muddy through for someone like me whose brain tends to switch off when reading nonfiction, but still brilliant. Armed with the info you mine, it makes sense that you can see the Story from a birds-eye view and determine what works, what doesn’t and why. I love that! I have been struggling with revisions for too long, and it’s because I can’t pinpoint exactly what’s wrong and why.
I’ll be doing a Story Grid evaluation of my current WIP (the one that I tried to get done before the end of LAST year, but couldn’t because I got fatigued trying to figure out how to FIX it), and I think I’ll post it here, if you want to follow along.
And if you’re not in a position to buy the Story Grid right now, Shawn Coyne generously published all of this info on his website: https://storygrid.com. The book is easier to go through, for sure, but if you’re an experienced writer, you may be able to pick up what you need pretty quickly through his online resources.
A great read for any writer, and an excellent addition to my favorite writing books:
- Nail Your Story: Add Tension, Build Emotion, and Keep Your Readers Addicted (Growth Hacking For Storytellers),
- Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story,
- Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing, and
- How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method.