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




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ARCHIVES OF June, 2017

What It Takes

What It Takes

The Professor, The Artist, The Writer, And The Dots

By Callie Oettinger | Published: June 30, 2017

Real Artists Don't StarveHave you ever experienced a lightning strike when reading a book, listening to a song, or staring at a painting?

That thing that’s been hanging in the background emerges with a clear path ahead of it. You know what to do—how to paint that portrait, how to sing that song, how to frame that book. It’s as if all the ideas in the universe came together at that moment to clear the way for one big idea—an idea that relied on you being in that exact place and time.

This line from F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon fueled a “What It Takes” article last year:

“I can always tell people are nice,” the stewardess said approvingly, “if they wrap their gum in paper before they put it in there.”

This week I’ve been going back and forth between Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and Jeff Goins’ Real Artists Don’t Starve.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki MurakamiToward the beginning of Norwegian Wood lives a spin on that old “you are what you eat” saying:

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

I typed it into my file of lines—those strands of words that double as defibrillators for my brain. When I stall, a read of those lines gets the noggin’ pumping again.

So it was with that line in my head that I started reading Real Artists Don’t Starve.

The back cover says the book debunks the myth of the starving artist.

While that might be what it is about, the book itself is an example of connecting the dots, which is what Greats do best. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Every Villain is a Metaphor for Resistance

By Steven Pressfield | Published: June 28, 2017


Darth Vader.

Compared to Resistance, this dude is a pussycat

Compared to Resistance, this dude is a pussycat

The Gorgon.


They and every other villain in myth and literature (and real life) are metaphors for Resistance.

Resistance is the universal and ultimate villain.

Consider how this monster was described in The War of Art.


1. Resistance is Internal.


It is self-generated and self-perpetuated.


  1. Resistance is Insidious.


Resistance has no conscience. [It] is always lying and always full of shit.


  1. Resistance is Implacable.


It cannot be reasoned with. It is an engine of destruction … implacable, intractable, indefatigable. Reduce it to a single cell and that cell will continue to attack.


  1. Resistance is Impersonal


It doesn’t know who you are and it doesn’t care. Resistance is a force of nature.


  1. Resistance plays for keeps.


Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. It aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being, our genius, our soul. When we fight Resistance, we are in a war to the death.


The reader or moviegoer doesn’t have to be aware of the concept of Resistance to feel its echoes in Freddy Krueger and Leatherface and the Zombie Apocalypse, not to mention our friends the Alien, the shark in Jaws, and the Terminator.

The human heart looks in Hannibal Lecter’s eyes and recognizes the ultimate nemesis within its own chambers.

Write a villain that is as evil as Resistance (and shares as many of its specific qualities as possible) and you will be more than halfway to penning something spectacular.


Posted in Writing Wednesdays

What It Takes

What It Takes

The Magic Pill

By Shawn Coyne | Published: June 23, 2017

[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:

Until these guys win the inner war for us, we're useless

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 Micro worlds of writing for their respective 10,000 hours too) would appreciate such a resource. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes
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