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




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What It Takes

What It Takes

Nonfiction Points of View

By Shawn Coyne | Published: August 18, 2017

In my last post, I reviewed controlling idea/theme as it applies to the Big Idea book.  Now let’s take a look at how to best present the Big Idea to the reader. The following is an edited adaptation of a previous post I wrote over at

Just as in fiction, the choices the nonfiction writer makes about Point of View in Big Idea Nonfiction are make or break decisions. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes


By Callie Oettinger | Published: August 11, 2017

[Have you ever written something that included numbers and then wondered how those numbers played out? This is one of those for me. This post hit March 25, 2011. Apple is now minus Scott Forstall. Scott Forstall is now plus several Tony Awards. On Twitter, Scott Forstall is plus 8 tweets and still following Conan O’Brien. When this article hit, Conan O’Brien was minus “The Tonight Show” and about six months into being plus “Conan.” He’s now plus the title once held by David Letterman, of being the “the longest tenured late-night host on television.” And he did it in less than 3,500 tweets. Must be the content.]

When I was twelve, counting my age in silverware got me to the end of my unloading the dishwasher chore: five forks, five knives, two serving spoons and a butter knife to grow on.

When I was in college, just over a thousand steps, counting every other time my right foot hit the ground, got me from my dorm near the corner of Mass Ave. and Beacon St., to classes closer to Beacon and Berkley.

When I run, 450 steps, counting every fifth time one of my feet hits the ground, gets me to the one mile mark.

These days, counting followers, friends, likes, and visitors is getting me nowhere. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

What’s the Big Idea?

By Shawn Coyne | Published: August 4, 2017

I’m working with two writers right now on Big Idea projects.

It’s easy to lose your focus putting these kinds of projects together. Even as the developmental editor supporting the writer.

Because you must nail Ethos, Logos, and Pathos…you begin to obsess about credentials, research, prescriptive advice, complimentary storytelling…you can easily lose the thread of why you’re working on the thing to begin with.

Here’s the secret to the Big Idea book. It’s simple but easy to forget. I do all the time.

You’ve got to nail the Big Idea in the most straightforward, easiest to understand and exciting way possible.

Once you do that, all of the other stuff (the research, the stories, the central passion of why you feel driven to write the thing in the first place) will fall into place.  In fact, you’ll laugh about how easy it is once you nail the idea.

What I mean is that you have to boil down your controlling idea/theme into its purest essence. Like making the darkest, richest maple syrup, you keep applying heat until its pure Grade B (which is the really good stuff…Grade A is a marketing effort to get people to buy the lesser syrup).

So how do you do that?

(What follows is an edited version of a post I wrote a few years back about Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal Big Idea Book, The Tipping Point.)

Posted in What It Takes
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