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




Subscribe RSS

Subscribe to SPO.

ARCHIVES OF January, 2014

What It Takes

What It Takes

What Do You Want?

By Shawn Coyne | Published: January 31, 2014

When thinking about the kind of story you’d like to tell, what do I want? is a great question to ask yourself.


What's the theme of this book?

Obviously you want to write a successful work of art, which will bring you recognition and ultimately enough of a living wage for you to write another one.

But why do you want that?

You may not consciously know it, but the reason why you want to write a great story is because you have something to say. You have a message to share with as many people as possible in the most compelling way imaginable…in a story.

This message is what Steve Pressfield refers to as theme.

Finding the theme is your responsibility. And it ain’t easy either. Great writers often have zero idea about their theme when they begin a work. But they don’t write THE END until they crack that code. Steve’s last book, The Authentic Swing, was all about his struggle to figure out the theme of The Legend of Bagger Vance. And every book you love has a similar quest behind it too.

Pros don’t give up on finding their theme. They know that if they don’t know what they want or why, chances are the people/characters in their stories won’t know what they want or why either. And aimless people on the page bore the shit out of readers. Stories must have a direction…a beginning, middle and end.

The primary way writers contend with finding their themes is to embrace the specificity of genre. The Legend of Bagger Vance is a golf novel and it adheres to all of the conventions that the golf novel requires. But it’s not really about golf. 

Don’t forget that stories are arguments to effect change. And that human beings use stories to guide their behaviors. The most persuasive and charismatic among us are those people capable of reeling off simply told, extremely entertaining tales. But if the stories don’t have anything meaningful beneath the narrative drive, they fail to move people to change. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Nobody Knows Nothing

By Steven Pressfield | Published: January 29, 2014

If you follow this blog, you know that I’m not a big believer in feedback. By that I mean “notes,” “critiques,” “comments” about one’s work from writing groups or editors or friends or just about any other source.


With apologies to William Goldman ("Butch Cassidy," "All The President's Men") who famously said of the movie biz: "Nobody Knows Anything."

It’s been my experience that very, very few people can read something and tell you accurately what’s wrong with it. And practically nobody can tell you how to fix it.

Feedback from anyone else will just screw you up.

Here, unexpurgated, is an e-mail exchange between me and a hard-working young writer named Michael G. S. Hesse. Michael has given me his permission to post this. Please feel free to jump in to the Comments section either with encouragement for Michael or brickbats for me for applying too much “tough love.”

Dear Mr. Pressfield,

When do you know if you need to return to a project and polish or start anew?

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

Ask Me Anything Mondays

Ask Me Anything Mondays

How Long to Allow to Write a Book

By Steven Pressfield | Published: January 27, 2014

This week on Ask Me Anything we take a question from Joel Canfield.

How do you decide how long to allow for writing a book? Do you set a time goal like one year, or do you let it take as long as it takes and trust the daily writing ritual to keep you on track?

Recommended reading: Henry Miller’s Rules of Writing


Steve: I think this is a great question when we’re thinking about organizing a year—and Shawn, jump in on this and Jeff, jump in on this whenever you want to. The key concept here I think, is thinking in blocks of time. Not just going one day at a time because that’s like setting off for Tahiti in a sailboat and you just figure, “Well I’m just going to keep sailing west.” You’ve got to have a chart and you’ve got to know how long it’s going to take.


Posted in Ask Me Anything Mondays
Sign up for first look access.

Enter your email to get free access to every new thing I do.

No spam, I promise!

Gates of Fire
The War of Art
The Knowledge
Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t
The Authentic Swing
The Lion's Gate
Turning Pro
The Profession
The Warrior Ethos
Do The Work
Tides of War
The Afghan Campaign
The Virtues of War
Killing Rommel
Last of the Amazons
The Legend of Bagger Vance
Additional Reading
Video Blog