The Creative Penn

The Story Grid. How To Tell A Story And Edit Your Fiction With Shawn Coyne


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The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn

Description: writing, self-publishing, print-on-demand, internet sales and marketing…for your book

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The Story Grid. How To Tell A Story And Edit Your Fiction With Shawn Coyne

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If a reader can’t put your book down, it’s because you wrote a good story.

The Story Grid, which deconstructs the most effective way to tell stories based on the books we know and love.

In the introduction, I mention Author Earnings report, and my personal writing update.

PLUS/ you can join me on a free webinar, ‘The 10 Essential Elements for Your Author Website’, on Feb 19, 2015. If you register, you can get the recording even if you can’t make it live.

This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.

Kobo’s financial support pays for the hosting and transcription, and if you enjoy the show, you can now support my time on Patreon. Thank you for your support!

The Story Grid.

You can listen above or watch the interview on YouTube here or read the notes and links below.

  • Shawn’s 25 years of publishing experience as an editor has enabled him to break down the best way to tell a story.
Writer’s need to learn how to edit themselves.
  • What do writers get wrong? Writers seem to be fearful or have contempt for ‘genre,’ even though this is core to story. Every story has a genre – it’s just a way of classifying what we’ve been telling for thousands of years. Writers need to embrace genre.
  • This will help you ask the right questions to work out if your book is working. Genre as Amazon category and how publishing has developed genre for the industry.
  • On writing as an artist, vs editing from the structural angle. Don’t edit on a first draft. The goal for your first draft is to get to the end. Shawn recommends an overview map, that gives you a highlight of what you need to hit in the story. Foolscap Method: what genre do you want to write in? Beginning hook, middle build and ending pay-off. It’s for when you want to take your story to the next level, OR/ it’s just a mess and you need to get it into shape. Change ‘hats’ to become an editor.
  • On getting better as a writer over time, with more books and stories under your belt.
On the change in story values and polarity shift in a scene
  • Story values are positive or negative things in our lives e.g. life vs death – but there’s also the fate worse than death = damnation; or justice – unfairness – injustice – tyranny. Damnation and tyranny here are the ‘negation of the negation,’ a very powerful change for a story.
  • The primary unit for a novelist or screenwriter is the scene. It has to have a value at state. It might be the overarching value of the whole story, OR/ it’s a value within the scene. When you start the scene, you are at a value – then turning point, something happens – and you end up at the polarity shift of values. A scene moves from one value to another – of a different polarity.
  • On writing screenplays to improve your storytelling, and some of the pros and cons of screenwriting.
Characteristics of breakout stories
  • Example of negation of the negation, and going through extreme change, which means nothing will ever be the same. This is really back to story values. Understand the core value of the genre you write in and taking it to the end of the line.
On being a creative entrepreneur
  • Black Irish Books’ motto is “get in the ring.” This is to encourage authors to fight the creative fight, do those things that you know you have to push yourself into. Fight the inner war of Resistance.
  • On indie publishing and the new digital revolution. How Shawn has shifted from mainstream big publishers to choosing himself and starting Black Irish. Part of that decision is based on freedom of creative expression and the ability to try things out. On the entrepreneurial mindset and the type of person who suits the indie way of doing things. You can learn it, for sure, but there are people who are more suited to it. On launching and the long haul approach.

You can find Shawn Coyne at Black Irish Books and their books and audios here.

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