This last year I read the “Story Grid” by Shawn Coyne and it was invaluable in a few ways. I highly recommend any writer or aspiring writer to read it as well. It absolutely helped me feel more secure in my writing and more than anything, make my story telling more efficient and more effective. Here’s how:
In “The Story Grid,” Coyne lays out the effective pattern that all stories need in order to impress and entertain the reader. He makes the case that every story, no matter the writer or the genre, has essential elements that must be present. Have you ever read a story and then told yourself it “just didn’t work?” I sure have. Coyne’s book helps to sort out those issues that keep a story from working. I felt like I sort of had those things sorted out but it was fantastic to read about those elements from an accomplished editor. Besides, the grid helped me identify one obvious problem that kept my own story, “The Sureshot,” from being great. Problem identified, fixed and now I’m less likely to commit the same mistake in future.
Coyne broke down all levels and elements of story telling and how to be a master of them. The information is invaluable. He uses several stories as examples to help the reader understand effective story telling with “Silence of the Lambs” as the anchoring story throughout. He even broke the book down by chapter and element with the speaker in each and even the times author, Thomas Harris, used italics. It was all amazing information.
Since reading “The Story Grid,” I revised and rewrote “The Sureshot,” learned to use the foolscap outline for more effective story writing and to tweak some other things I do to improve my writing. Again, if you want to be a writer, I highly recommend this book. Get serious and check out the story grid.
He also has a website with great information: