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Story Grid (Ongoing Notes)

The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know is a book written by, Editor/Agent/Author and a plenitude of other titles, Shawn Coyne.

The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know: Coyne, Shawn, Pressfield, Steven:  9781936891351: Books
Link to book:
About Story Grid: How to Write and Edit a Book that Works

The purpose of this post is just to highlight 3 things I’ve found in the first 15% of the book. I’m planning on posting more of these for two specific reasons.

  1. My memory works best when I’m re-writing/reading something.
  2. I’ve found it to be a rather useful book with plenty of new information for me

The first thing I found was a quick and dirty way to decide if your book has UMPH. UMMMPPHHHH. Take the 15 most pivotal scenes of a book, and trying to tell the story to a neutral friend. This has to be a person who won’t just blow smoke up your bum. If they’re not excited to listen after the first few scenes, or if they’re not hanging on your every word, you have a story problem.

Numero Dos. Don’t try to conform to genre/fiction standards, but know the rules before you break them. Knowing the rules before you can break them is an old story told by most English professors across different universities. How plot works, dialogue, and everything in-between. Coyne uses Lolita as an example of wonderful writing that fully breaks the rules (root for the evil protagonist). He also points out that anytime you try to copy another bestseller and what you think makes them a bestseller, you’re ruining your own chances to write what’s “unique” to you.

数3. You need to decide, way before you start writing your book, about what your reasons are for writing said book. Coyne states there’s two types of publishing houses (not counting self-publishing), the commercial and the independent, or more accurately the big (bestselling fiction types) and small (literary and arthouse). Which would your work best fit within? Whichever you choose, you need to tailor your writing and genre to fall within the scope of either one exclusively. The goal of any writer, should be to create books that are read over a spectrum of people. Whether that spectrum is massive or a niche group you’re trying to reach, that’s a choice for each and everyone of us.

Categories: Discovery and Writing Tips Thoughts and Tips Uncategorized

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I'm a high school English teacher in Texas. I also hold degrees in radiography and radio and television broadcasting. Though I obtained certain knowledge and skills from my prior degrees, I do not currently use them.

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