THE STORY GRID: A Five Part Video Series from Shawn Coyne.




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What It Takes

What It Takes


By Shawn Coyne | Published: October 2, 2015

For a while now, over at I’ve been writing about Malcolm

September 1, 1939

September 1, 1939

Gladwell and his first book The Tipping Point.

I’m doing something that I call “storygridding it.” And that’s just my short hand for creating a revealing infographic that a writer can look at lickety-split for inspiration.

And if she gets stuck writing her Big Idea nonfiction book, she can look deeply into the data of the story grid. And that data will reveal how a fellow scribe solved the same problem that she’s battling. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

Always Come Out of Another Hole

By Callie Oettinger | Published: September 25, 2015

[I forgot about this post from Aug. 30, 2013, until I ran into Kevin Spacey’s speech again. Take a look and scroll down for Sir David Lean, too. For as much as things change, they stay the same. — Callie]

At about the 1:20 mark in Kevin Spacey’s MacTaggart Lecture, given during the Edinburgh International Television Festival, he looks straight into the audience and says, “It’s the Creatives, Stupid.”

It’s a television festival, so he keeps on the “television” theme, but that deeper thread is about change and taking risks.

When facing one of his first offers for a television role, he contacted his mentor, Jack Lemmon. He wasn’t sure that he wanted to take part in a television program that network execs had their hands all over—poking here and there within the creative process . . .

So . . . he calls Jack, and asks him about those “golden years of television” that Jack always spoke about—those years when Jack had first started out. “Was he being nostalgic or was there something different about the way television was back then?” Jack replied:

You have to understand, kid, that television was brand new back then. I mean, it was a new medium and nobody knew if it was gonna last—so you could try anything. Comedy one week … a drama the next… a musical… I mean…. It was terrific. It hadn’t been commercialized yet and no one knew it was going to be around that long. There was this sense of total abandon. Total abandon.

Total abandon. . . Not exactly the words we think of when television, films, music, books, or any other “creative industry” is mentioned today.

Within his talk. Kevin also mentions attending the 1990 American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement award for Sir David Lean—and how Sir David “dedicated his acceptance speech to the idea of promoting and supporting emerging talent. It turns out he was concerned, perhaps frightened by the film industry’s lack of commitment to developing talent and the greater and greater number of films the studios were making that appealed only to the pulse and not to the mind.”

Only to the pulse . . . not the mind . . .


Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

The Write Stuff

By Shawn Coyne | Published: September 18, 2015

[To read more of Shawn’s stuff, subscribe to]

Last week I read something very exciting.09BOOKCLEGG-master180

It was a review of a book that I hadn’t read, nor did I know the author in any real way. Here it is.

What was exciting was in the way that the writer absolutely ripped the work to shreds. The review was funny, intelligent, and somehow apologetic in the way that the reviewer went about his surgical eviscerating. As if he didn’t really want to be doing what he was doing, but owed it to the public to reveal the fraudulent and shameful creation he’d been forced to read and critique as a blatant example of a contemporary Emperor’s New Clothes hoodwink by the incestuous cabal that controls big book publishing. (more…)

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