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The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  1,312 ratings  ·  204 reviews
The Story Grid is a tool developed by editor Shawn Coyne to analyze stories and provide helpful editorial comments. It's like a CT Scan that takes a photo of the global story and tells the editor or writer what is working, what is not, and what must be done to make what works better and fix what's not. The Story Grid breaks down the component parts
Paperback, 346 pages
Published April 29th 2015 by Black Irish Entertainment LLC (first published April 27th 2015)
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Becky I've just begun reading and am already making mental changes in a story that I am writing. A pretty good cookbook and specific recipe for stories "tha…moreI've just begun reading and am already making mental changes in a story that I am writing. A pretty good cookbook and specific recipe for stories "that work."(less)
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Joe Valdez
My good friend Al Patel has been trying to get me to read The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne for donkey's years. Coyne is an editor who with over twenty-five years experience in publishing, recently launched Black Irish Books with author Steven Pressfield. For lack of resources when they got into the business, Coyne and Pressfield have spent a great deal of time writing about how to edit or how to write a book. After reading a novella I wrote, Al read me the riot act, telling ...more
J.F. Penn
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
Highly recommended for writers of fiction and screenplays. Always good to read another take on story structure. I'll be using the foolscap sheet on my next novel. It's also good to read an honest appraisal of literature vs storytelling.
Sharon Coleman
Have you ever had a conversation with someone that kept interrupting themselves to give you more and more back story? You know the type, when a person says, "OMG I've got to tell you the most amazing thing, but first I want to tell you what made me think of telling you, and... no wait, let me tell you what led me to thinking of telling you that thing. Oh don't worry I'll get to the amazing thing eventually..."
That was this book.

The author tells you he will tell you about the Silence of the
This book is BRILLIANT!

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If you are an editor, you MUST read this book. If you are a writer, you MUST read this book. If you WANT to be a writer, you MUST read this book. If you are a beta reader, you MUST read this book. If you are a BookWorm, you MUST read "The Story Grid". Yes, that sums it up.

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The book is beyond insightful and packed with so much knowledge, you won't mind how many pages you are about to read.

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It's not a light read, but it is an interesting journey.

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Thanks to Autho
K.M. Weiland
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good stuff. Solid approach to structured storytelling, with some slants that made think of certain things from new and useful angles.
Sometimes, when I'm in a masochistic mood, I listen to the Story Grid podcast. In it, Shawn Coyne coaches Some Guy through the process of writing his first novel.

It's jargon-y and self-congratulatory and so, so, so annoying.

But it's also probably the closest thing to a graduate-level, nitty-gritty look at the novel-writing process that I've found available for free.

In amongst the jargon and the chippy, anti-literary-fiction stance, there are parts that are genuinely revelatory. The Story Grid bo
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am finding this very useful.
Ksenia Anske
Jul 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book quite possibly has changed my life. It will quite possibly change yours. If you're a writer, I suggest you buy it. If you yourself already know what's in it, give it as a gift to a novice writer. They will love you for it. I know I love my fellow writer who suggested it. It has taught me how to be my own editor. It has given me the structure I craved, when I was tearing out my hair, trying to fix my novel. I nearly gave up on it. This book helped me save it. More. This book fired me up ...more
Lynne Favreau
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Shawn posted the content of this book free on his I read along as he posted immediately enamored of the process he was working us through. I'd struggled with revising and editing my WIP and found The Story Grid's intense focus on structure liberating. I finally had a detailed method for uncovering what is working, what isn't and, even more important-how to fix it.

This is destined to be a must-read for serious novelists.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, owned-ebook
I am annoyed that I have to give this book two stars instead of one. ANNOYED. For a book written by an editor, good lord did this book need edited. For clarity. For organization. To not sound like a bunch of blog posts cobbled together. To not repeat itself over and over and over and over and over. To tone down the Silence of the Lambs fanboying just a tick. To, perhaps, suggest that if you're going to say that genre-obligatory things are SUPER IMPORTANT that perhaps you might want to define wha ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
I've been listening to the Editor Roundtable podcast, the sister podcast to the main Storygrid one, but way less irritating because it doesn't include Shawn Coyne. This is where Shawn Coyne's gaggle of editor underlings (mostly women) talk about the narrative structure of a movie. They pick an interesting selection of films, and they seem to be going through one stand-out example from each of the genres.

Coynes' breakdown of genres is why I read his book. I couldn't get a handle on this aspect ju
Chris Babu
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book, and one of the most useful I've found for novelists. It's also a strange book, which meanders all over the place. I wonder if the irony was lost on Shawn Coyne that this book could've used some more editing. On the one hand, it's one pearl after another from a guy who clearly knows his shit. On the other, it's like he had my 11-yr-old daughter tell everyone about it. "So, here's how The Story Grid Works, but first I want to tell you this story about this guy, and, well before t ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read three books in the past two weeks that all said the same thing (in essence if not in actual words) and that is: writing is an act of humility. Andrew Peterson said it in Adorning the Dark when he talks about finishing a novel as a form of submitting yourself to the idea, to the process. Harrison Scott Key says it in essence when he shows just how much it costs you to finish a book, how much work it is, not only to write but also to sell and promote a book. And now Shawn Coyne says it i ...more
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, i-own
Have you ever read a book and for some reason, that you cannot articulate, it doesn’t work for you? There’s something wrong.
Now imagine you are writing or editing a book and you have the same reaction. Do you throw it away? Do you give up and start writing a new story? What if you make the same mistakes again? What if you just keep writing unfinished things that started off as good ideas and have got mired somewhere?
Or, do you try to work out where the story went wrong, and then work out how to
Stefan Emunds
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine your an author and you could send your manuscript to an editor, who checks it out and tells you what works and what not. It's every author's dream to look at his works through the glasses of an editor. Shawn has more than twenty-five years experiences and created a methodology that you can now put to work on your manuscripts. At long last...
Stewart Sternberg
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nuts and bolts. The book here is a tool. It gives writers a blueprint for self editing ones work before submission.

Some people resist the idea of structure and critical assessment. They are so caught up in the romance of writing and the idea of art that they don't to admit the mundane blue collar aspects of craft.

STORY GRID is a great way of overcoming that perspective. It is a way to make your writing better and to help overcome some obstacles that may occur from page one to the ending.

It is p
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent advice

I love this book and how by example it showed what it was speaking about. I'll never look at the Silence of the Lambs the same way again. And hope I can bring the same thing to my work.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's taken me a while to read this, mostly because I'd get side-tracked trying to use its principles before I was actually ready. However, today I finished it, and though I still find some of its almost-technical jargon a bit off-putting, and while I can't say that Silence of the Lambs is a book I'd have chosen as my model for everything Coyne writes about, this is still a valuable book. (He does give examples from other books and movies, by the way, and I found some of those more helpful, espec ...more
Daniel Adorno
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has changed my entire outlook and approach to writing, editing, and storytelling. Shawn Coyne's Story Grid framework is THE best approach I've seen to story craft and editing. His approach might seem very analytical to us creative types, but it provides a needed foundation to crafting a compelling story. Coyne possesses a wealth of knowledge on the publishing industry and he shares it in spades. You'll be learn the inner workings of the industry as well as what sets apart a bestselling ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've taken my time reading this, going back over specific chapters, and with a side-step into Silence of the Lambs along the way (as suggested), and I have to say I'm hooked on the whole story grid thing. There are videos to watch and other resources on the storygrid website, and I'm still soaking it all up. This is a brilliant book for anyone who's ever finished a first draft and then thought: okay, time to edit – what do I do apart from read it all again, and again, and again. Now there's a pr ...more
Pat Camalliere
I had high hopes for this how-to book, and I took a lot of notes. It was good for its organizational content but the grid is way too complex. If I were to do this I’d never get any actual writing done, and I’d end up doing a lot of re-writing. It’s good as a map to keep in mind when decision-making for whatever planning is done prior to writing, and the shorter form is worth keeping in mind. But I could never use the long form to good advantage. Glad I went through it for the understanding of th ...more
J.E. Trent
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Worth every stinking penny!

If I ever have a book make it to the New York Times bestseller list, it will be a direct result of what I learned by reading this book.
Aaron Wolfson
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written to help writers craft a better story, this is actually a rewarding read for anyone who wants a better understanding of how stories work. Which should be everyone!
Anthony Vicino
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute must read for anybody interested in story craft.
Marion Hill
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2019-reads
There are a lot of writing craft books out there for writers. I’m sure many of them are useful for fledging writers to get better at their craft of writing fiction. However, I realize that a certain writing craft book comes into a writer’s life at the right time.

The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne is that book for me.

I published my third fantasy novel, Diondray’s Roundabout, and I have reached the point where I want to learn how to tell stories better. I want to learn how to tell stories from the grou
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Good:
I think Coyne has a lot of interesting things to say about story and plot structure, and he’s given me a lot of food for thought about how to approach reworking my novel. For that element of gratitude, I’m totally throwing in an extra star.

The Bad:
It’s frustrating how SUPER focused on thrillers Coyne is - it almost feels like he really wanted to write a book on how to structure a thriller, but realized a more general approach would have broader appeal and well, here we are. He also is h
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing, favorites
Amazing. This is a writing book you need to have on your shelves, right next to "On Writing". I've seen this book do the rounds of writer friends who have praised it and - arrogantly, naively - dismissed it for a while. But I'm incredibly glad I picked it up. Coyne breaks down fundamental concepts in easy to understand ways and builds them up using The Silence of the Lambs as an example work to show you how it all ties together. I haven't shown my kindle highlights on this one because I've basic ...more
Alanna Why
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in May, but I wanted to wait until I put what I learned from the book into practice before reviewing it. This is a HEFTY, repetitive and somewhat annoying book about editing/writing fiction. BUT, I also learned more from it than any other writing book that I've read previously.

If you wade through the endless references to Silence of The Lambs and action movies, there is really solid and useful advice about genre, scenes, story structure and character arcs. Still, I wish that Coyne h
Claire Wilson
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow this book is amazing. I can’t recommend it enough
Meghan Pinson
I gave this three stars at first, then when I pulled it off the shelf two days later to refer to it, gave it four, then when it gave me all kinds of ideas the next day, changed it to five. It’s now going into my favorites because I just referred to it heavily in a developmental editing session with a client. Super useful for analyzing fiction for revision.
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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
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“if your Story doesn’t change your lead character irrevocably from beginning to end, no one will deeply care about it. It may entertain them, but it will have little effect on them. It will be forgotten.” 3 likes
“Change, no matter how small, requires loss. And the prospect of loss is far more powerful than potential gain. It’s difficult to imagine what a change will do to us. This is why we need stories so desperately.” 2 likes
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