Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Untitled Book, Installment #2

By Steven Pressfield
Published: February 21, 2018

  1. THE HERO’S JOURNEY AND THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY {continuing from last week’s post}



I have a theory about the Hero’s Journey. We all have one. We have many, in fact. But our primary hero’s journey as artists is the passage we live out, in real life, before we find our calling.

Rocket Raccoon overcoming an All Is Lost Moment in “Guardians of the Galaxy”

The hero’s journey is the search for that calling.

It’s preparation.

It’s initiation (or more precisely, self-initiation).

On the hero’s journey, we see, we experience, we suffer. We learn.

On our hero’s journey, we acquire a history that is ours alone. It’s a secret history, a private history, a personal history. No one has it but us. No one knows it but us. This secret history is the most valuable possession we hold, or ever will hold. We will draw upon it for the rest of our lives.

The hero’s journey ends when, like Odysseus, we return home to Ithaca, to the place from which we started. We wash up on shore. We have survived. We have come home.

Now what?

The passage that comes next is the Artist’s Journey.

The artist’s journey comes after the hero’s journey.

Everything that has happened to us up to this point is rehearsal for us to act, now, as our true self and to find and speak in our true voice.

The artist’s journey is the process of self-discovery that follows.

It will last as long as we’re alive, and maybe longer.





In Hollywood parlance, there’s an inflection point in every story called the All Is Lost Moment. This moment comes near the end of Act Two, about two-thirds of the way through the movie.

In the All Is Lost moment, the hero is as far from her goal as possible. It seems certain in that moment that she will never reach it.

The All Is Lost moment is immediately followed by what I call the Epiphanal Moment.

In the epiphanal moment, the hero experiences a breakthrough.

This breakthrough is almost always internal. The hero changes her attitude. She regroups. She sees her dilemma from a new perspective, a perspective that she had never considered before (or, if she had considered it, had rejected), a point of view that offers either hope or desperation amounting to hope.

The movie now enters Act Three. The hero, fortified by this fresh hope (or desperation), charges full-tilt into the climax.

Sarah Conner stops running and turns to confront the Terminator.

Luke Skywalker boards his X-wing and flies against the Death Star.

Bogey makes the decision to put Ingrid, with her husband, onto the plane to Lisbon, while he himself stays to confront the enemies of freedom.

You and I have All Is Lost moments in our real lives.

We have Epiphanal Moments.

Here is mine, from The War of Art:


I washed up in New York a couple of decades ago, making

twenty bucks a night driving a cab and running away fulltime

from doing my work. One night, alone in my $110-amonth

sublet, I hit bottom in terms of having diverted myself

into so many phony channels so many times that I couldn’t

rationalize it for one more evening. I dragged out my ancient

Smith-Corona, dreading the experience as pointless, fruitless,

meaningless, not to say the most painful exercise I could

think of. For two hours I made myself sit there, torturing out

some trash that I chucked immediately into the shitcan. That

was enough. I put the machine away. I went back to the

kitchen. In the sink sat ten days of dishes. For some reason I

had enough excess energy that I decided to wash them. The

warm water felt pretty good. The soap and sponge were

doing their thing. A pile of clean plates began rising in the

drying rack. To my amazement I realized I was whistling.

It hit me that I had turned a corner.

I was okay.

I would be okay from here on.

Do you understand? I hadn’t written anything good. It

might be years before I would, if I ever did at all. That

didn’t matter. What counted was that I had, after years

of running from it, actually sat down and done my work.


That was my epiphanal moment.

My hero’s journey was over.

My artist’s journey had begun.

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Posted in Writing Wednesdays

What It Takes

What It Takes

Please Repeat Your Message

By Callie Oettinger | Published: February 23, 2018

My husband and I walked in on a wedding.

We wanted a drink and some downtime, but instead we got flower girls, sequins, stares—and a polite request to leave.

It was a reminder that the obvious place for important messaging isn’t always the best place—and a lesson on how easy it is to miss the signs.

Here’s how it played out.

We were in the mountains visiting family.

We got caught outside in freezing rain.

The kids wanted showers and pajamas.

My husband and I wanted a drink and a firepit.

The kids stayed with the family and my husband and I took off to a local cidery.

The cidery’s taproom and restaurant sit atop a hill with a view. Even on the rainiest days and at night, Beauty surrounds the place.

It was late and dark, and tunnel vision led us up the long ramp from the parking lot. This isn’t just a small ramp. It is a hike in itself, going up in one direction, and then turning and going up in another direction.

Once we summited the ramp, my husband swung open the front door and walked in first.

I saw my husband turn the corner.

Then I saw a woman with a full-length, sequin and lace, red gown, leaning over a small table and signing something.

First thought: That looks like my black dress.

Second thought: Why’s she wearing that here?

I turned the corner.

I saw two little girls and a woman bending over the girls. The little girls had white dresses, white socks, white shoes, and flowers in their hair.

I stopped walking.

The bar was to my left, a dividing wall was in front of me, and to the right I could see a bit of the overflow that wasn’t hidden behind the wall—rows of filled chairs and tuxedos.

Light bulb moment. This is a wedding.

My husband is a fast walker. Long stride. He light bulbed at the same time I did, just in a different location.

He said something to the bartenders. One rushed from around the bar and told us it was a private ceremony.

Que a quick exit.

All the way down the ramp, we talked about how we got in there.

Why wasn’t there a sign?

And then we got to the bottom—and saw the sign.
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Posted in What It Takes | 10 Comments

What It Takes

What It Takes

Storygridding 4,000 words of Big Idea Nonfiction

By Shawn Coyne | Published: February 16, 2018

For fun, over at 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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Posted in What It Takes | 4 Comments
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