Month: May 2017

Writing a Great Villain

By Steven Pressfield | 14 Comments

The easiest villain to write is the external villain. The Alien. The shark in Jaws. The Terminator. Doc Ock, Bane, Immortan Joe. Or force-of-nature villains—the volcano in Volcano, the oncoming Ice Age in The Day After Tomorrow, the Mayan-prophecy-end-of-the-world in 2012. External villains present existential threats to our physical existence. These sonsofbitches will kill you, eat you, freeze you, boil you. The problem with external villains, though they may occasionally deliver bestseller sales and boffo box office, is they don’t often bring out the best in the stars who must confront them. Why? Because the stars only have to duel…

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First Story Gridding Steps

By Shawn Coyne | 4 Comments

We’re story gridding The Tipping Point. Why are we doing this again?

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Clueless Asks

By Steven Pressfield | 65 Comments

  I turn down all clueless asks. What exactly is a clueless ask? Anyone who sends me their manuscript unsolicited. Anyone who asks me to meet them for lunch. Anyone who sends me an e-mail headed “Hi” or “Hello there” (or with no salutation at all.) Anyone who asks me how to get an agent. Anyone who asks me to introduce them to my agent. These are not malicious asks. The writers who send them are nice people, motivated by good intentions. They’re just clueless. They have committed one of two misdemeanors (or both). First, they have demonstrated that they…

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Baseball, Bouncebacks, and Stealing Joy

By Callie Oettinger | 13 Comments

A baseball hit me in the face. The short story: I was at a baseball game when a player hit a ball, the ball hit a guardrail, and then the ball hit my face. Every experience in life is spooled on a loop, so as the Camden Yards staff hovered to make sure an ice pack was all I needed, I wondered which loop I was existing in at that moment. Why did this happened? Of all the people at the game, why me? What had I missed? Why was I in that loop? Why not the loop of the…

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Warriors and Mothers

By Steven Pressfield | 18 Comments

    What are the virtues of an entrepreneur? What qualities of mind do you and I need if we are going to succeed as artist/entrepreneurs? One answer (the one I usually use) is to say we need the virtues of warriors: Courage. Self-reliance. The ability to endure adversity. Another way is to say we need the virtues of mothers. I had a dream once. I was living in New York, driving a cab at night, trying to write in the daytime. A friend came to visit. My friend was one of these wildly extroverted guys, who immediately went out…

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Story Gridding The Tipping Point

By Shawn Coyne | 3 Comments

This is the fifth post in my Story Gridding Nonfiction series.  To read the first, click here.  To read the second, click here. To read the third, click here. And to read the fourth, click here. We’ve been exploring Story Grid as it relates to nonfiction, specifically Big Idea Nonfiction. For our case study, I’m going to reexamine Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.  Preparing this condensed series required me to go back to the extended work I did in 2015 and it’s definitely worth another look. The material will be familiar for veteran followers of When I began analyzing…

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Politics and the Professional Mindset

By Steven Pressfield | 19 Comments

  Candidates for office in all lands and in every century make the same promise to the voters they hope to attract:   I will get you what you want and it will cost you nothing.   “Want your job back? A free college education? No problem. I’ll get it for you.” Something for nothing is the offer a drug dealer makes to an addict or a mother provides for an infant. In the grownup world, something for nothing does not exist. Yet politicians sell it to us, and we fall for it every time. Why? The amateur, the infant,…

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Brian Wilson, Warren Buffett, Albert Einstein, and Ruth Stone

By Callie Oettinger | 16 Comments

[REMEMBER: Registration for Shawn’s Story Grid Workshop closes tonight. Haven’t checked it out yet? Dig in here: Story Grid Workshop] In the documentary Beach Boys: The Making of Pet Sounds, Al Jardine said Brian Wilson “sees things I don’t think the rest of us see and hears things, certainly, that we don’t hear. He has a special receiver going on in there, in his brain.” What is that special, indefinable “it” about Brian Wilson? Is it really related to seeing, hearing, and receiving? And, if it is, what’s different about how he sees, hears, and receives? What of the rest of…

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Wanna Have Lunch With Stephen King?

By Steven Pressfield | 4 Comments

  Suppose you, an aspiring writer (or even an established one), got the chance to have a two-hour lunch with Stephen King? How much would that be worth? If you had to put a dollar figure on it, how much would you pay to have that experience? What price would make it fair to Stephen King for the expenditure of his time, for permitting you access to his wisdom? What would it be worth to you, just to hang out with the master of horror over a cheeseburger and fries? Or … Suppose you were a young architect and you…

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