Shawn Coyne

A Sub-Genre of One’s Own

By Shawn Coyne |

When I find a story fascinating, like I obviously find THE TIPPING POINT, I can’t help but think about the writer.  What drove him or her to tell it? I have a grand theory that there is something deep within them that drives them…something that they need to work out in their own minds that directs them to explore a particular genre and carve out a space inside of it of their own. I also believe that they are not consciously aware of their internal north star… In this next post edited from the www.storygrid.com archives, I explore what may…

Read More

It Ain’t Easy When You Get What You “Want”

By Shawn Coyne |

What’s it like when you get the call?  When you get the big deal and you’ve been ushered into Big Publishing’s Finishing School with a seven figure advance for your first book? Let’s head back to some material from www.storygrid.com and explore the reality of this dream come true state of being… When contemplating a writing project, let just one question guide you: What’s at stake? Not just what’s at stake in the Story—if it’s not earth shaking, find another one to tell—but what’s at stake for you personally. If you could skip the project and forget about it the…

Read More

Everyone Is Nobody Sometime

By Shawn Coyne |

Let’s go back twenty or so years and look at the world through the eyes of an ambitious journalist intent on creating something original.  Again, this material is from a series of posts I wrote over at www.storygrid.com. Let’s pretend you’re Malcolm Gladwell. It’s midish-1998.  Google won’t start up until September.  Facebook is more than five years away.  The Kindle launch is almost ten years away and not one publisher sees eBooks as a viable product. In August, Amazon.com publicly acknowledges that it plans to sell more than just books and CDs. Everything that is tipping or will tip in…

Read More

The Six Word GPS

By Shawn Coyne |

This is the next post in my series about Big Idea Nonfiction…and it’s a good one for fiction writers too.  When we hit a wall in our work (and we will) we need to settle ourselves so that we can outflank Resistance’s insistence that we’re wasting our time…that we’ll never finish…that we’re idiots for trying…  This post from www.storygrid.com a while back is a tool to get you back in the fight to complete your creation. What actually happens when we take on a project and work it until completion? Is there a universal experience of sorts that anyone who…

Read More

Nonfiction Objects of Desire

By Shawn Coyne |

We all know that fiction requires objects of desire for the protagonist and the antagonist.  What about nonfiction?  Are there objects of desire at play in a Big Idea nonfiction work?  If so…what are they?  And how can we clearly think about these wants and needs before we structure our work?  Below is the next post in my continuing series about Big Idea nonfiction using Malcolm Gladwell’s masterwork The Tipping Point as my case study. Just to remind everyone, this is an edited version of something I wrote over at www.storygrid.com a while back. We’re moving down our Foolscap Global…

Read More

Nonfiction Points of View

By Shawn Coyne |

In my last post, I reviewed controlling idea/theme as it applies to the Big Idea book.  Now let’s take a look at how to best present the Big Idea to the reader. The following is an edited adaptation of a previous post I wrote over at www.storygrid.com. Just as in fiction, the choices the nonfiction writer makes about Point of View in Big Idea Nonfiction are make or break decisions.

Read More

What’s the Big Idea?

By Shawn Coyne |

I’m working with two writers right now on Big Idea projects. It’s easy to lose your focus putting these kinds of projects together. Even as the developmental editor supporting the writer. Because you must nail Ethos, Logos, and Pathos…you begin to obsess about credentials, research, prescriptive advice, complimentary storytelling…you can easily lose the thread of why you’re working on the thing to begin with. Here’s the secret to the Big Idea book. It’s simple but easy to forget. I do all the time. You’ve got to nail the Big Idea in the most straightforward, easiest to understand and exciting way…

Read More

Subjective Truth, Editors and Resistance, #2

By Shawn Coyne |

In my last post I wrote about how editors’ primary jobs are to deliver objective truth to their writers. If the writer hasn’t specifically outlined and delivered step-by-step instructions in his proposed How-To book, the editor tells the writer that their choice of Genre requires them to do so. The editor then proposes changes to the work that’s On The Page in order to best comply with the writer’s stated intentions that are again already On The Page. If it’s a How-To Take Charge of Your Finances kind of book, the editor suggests that the writer move one piece of…

Read More

Editors and Resistance, #1

By Shawn Coyne |

I’m going to take a break from my wonky analysis of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and give you my take on Steve’s post from Wednesday, “Report from the Trenches, #1.” The central question I want to explore is “What form of Resistance do Editors face?” Well, like the hedgehog, Resistance knows one important thing about the editorial process… An Editor is a midwife. The only one who truly knows her value is the birther. The Big R lies in wait inside this truth.

Read More

The Magic Pill

By Shawn Coyne |

[Today’s “What It Takes” is from the vault, coming to you via July 24, 2015] If there is one question that I get asked again and again and again, it’s this: Is there a resource available that lists all of the conventions and obligatory scenes of each and every genre? The short answer to this is “not that I’m aware of.” I have a theory about why we all want such a Story “cheat sheet” which I’ll get into later. But I can absolutely understand why ambitious writers at the start of their careers (and those who’ve been mining the…

Read More

FREE MINI COURSE

Start with this War of Art [27-minute] mini-course. It's free. The course's five audio lessons will ground you in the principles and characteristics of the artist's inner battle.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.