What It Takes

Storygridding 4,000 words of Big Idea Nonfiction

By Shawn Coyne | 4 Comments

For fun, over at www.storygrid.com a while back, I storygridded Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal article from the June 3, 1996 edition of The New Yorker.  I tracked the narrative altitude in the work that I described in my post from February 2, 2018. The vertical axis moves from the “street” level perspective at the lowest elevation through the “city” vantage point up to the “national” level and then all the way to the highest “universal” level. Four specific lenses that he uses to progressively build dramatic tension.

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Don't Major in the Minor

By Callie Oettinger | 56 Comments

(Past is present. With a December 6, 2013 date, this post is a little over four years old. The drones haven’t replaced humans yet, but Amazon is still pushing distribution, with its announcement that Amazon is going to enter UPS’ and FedEx’s space. O’Reilly has continued to change things up since this writing, but is still leading the way. More cultivated subscription models, too.) “Don’t major in the minor.” Mellody Hobson said it, but I’ve thought it these last few days, since watching Jeff Bezos on 60 Minutes this past Sunday. In case you haven’t heard, Bezos unveiled a prototype…

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Narrative Altitude

By Shawn Coyne | 8 Comments

From www.storygrid.com, here is the next piece in my exploration of Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal work, The Tipping Point. For over a decade, Malcolm Gladwell understood the opportunity and potential of the tipping point idea. And by the time he arrived at The New Yorker in 1996, chances are he’d explored many of its intellectual trails—GRODZINS ’57; SCHELLING ’69, ’71, ’78; GRANOVETTER ’78, ’83; MORLEY ’84; CRANE ’89. If only in his own head, while waiting in line for take-out coffee at The Red Flame Diner on 44th Street, he’d cleared substantial tipping point terrain of his own. But his goal…

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The Key to It All

By Callie Oettinger | 9 Comments

Sherlock Holmes pays attention. His big details are the ones ignored as little. His knowledge of crimes and human nature come from his own experiences and from books and reports. He reads of wrongdoings, scandals, atrocities and the like, in reports from other countries, and he is a devoted reader of The Times’ “Agony” column. Holmes is fiction, but what he observes is not—nor are his sources. The Times did have an “Agony” column. It’s an aged rabbit hole worth diving into. The personal advertisements that ran in it aren’t so far from what’s found in this online world of ours.…

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Recognizing Opportunity

By Shawn Coyne | 3 Comments

Continuing my musings on the evolution of The Tipping Point, here’s the next installment from www.storygrid.com… It’s time for Malcolm Gladwell to deliver a fourth piece for The New Yorker. He decides the moment has come to open up that tipping point sardine can that he’s had marinating in the back of his mind’s idea pantry for ten years. The question now becomes how does he make it interesting to a wide audience?

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A Part of Our Lives

By Callie Oettinger | 12 Comments

Boston felt like home. I was in high school when I stepped into Bean Town for the first time, but I already knew Charles St. because I’d traveled it with Robert McCloskey’s Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, and I knew the North Church and Charlestown Shore, because I’d rowed and ridden with Longfellow’s Revere. I knew the city from childhood picture books and history textbooks, books that had been my friends and mentors, offering comfort and instruction. They were a part of my life just as much as any living, breathing teacher or relative. They were a part of me. I…

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Finding a Voice

By Shawn Coyne | 5 Comments

Here’s another piece from The Story Grid archives about how writers find their voices…using Malcolm Gladwell and the gestation of his wonderful book, The Tipping Point, again as my point of focus. So it’s 1996, about ten and a half years after the party in Washington D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood in the rented apartment where the young pishers Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg formed a lifelong bond. To see just how young these guys were, check out this interview with Weisberg when he was an intern at The New Republic way back in 1986.

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The Road Not Taken

By Callie Oettinger | 23 Comments

Exit the main streets of Washington, D.C., and you’ll find yourself driving through narrow chutes lined with parked cars, wishing your ride was a Mini Cooper. The same situation plays out in cities around the world, where buildings were constructed, and inner-city neighborhoods established, long before the rise of the automobile. A few weeks back, my mother visited Washington, D.C. She found herself near Eastern Market, behind a delivery truck on one of those narrow, one-way roads. Just before the intersection, the truck pulled tight to the right and stopped for a delivery. This left Mom with three options: 1)…

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Making Connections

By Shawn Coyne | 6 Comments

So it’s the mid-1980s and as young men do, Malcolm Gladwell and his friend Jacob Weisberg throw a lot of parties at their Washington D.C. rental on Adams Mill Road and Kenyon Street. At one such low rent Bacchanalia, Gladwell shoots the breeze with Jefferson Morley, an assistant editor and one of the supervisors along with Michael Kinsley and Dorothy Wickenden of the bright young politico Weisberg at The New Republic. Gladwell brings up a story Morley wrote for the July 9 1984 edition called “Double Reverse Discrimination.” In The Washingtonian “Gladwell’s Brain” profile by Chris Wilson on January 8,…

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My Secret

By Callie Oettinger | 25 Comments

(I read “this is stupid,” a post by Wil Wheaton, this week. I felt his pain. It reminded me of where I was last year when I wrote the article below. If you’re out there reading this, and think that the rest of us have “it” together, that we’re enjoying every bit of our work, that it all comes with ease, you’re wrong. It’s hard. It’s tiring. Often, all I want to do is head to the beach. But . . . Not even Kahuna stayed on the beach year round. He headed to work like the rest of us, and I’m pretty…

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