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What It Takes

What It Takes

The Magic Pill

By Shawn Coyne | Published: July 24, 2015

[Join to read more of Shawn’s Stuff]

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

What It Takes

What It Takes

Contracts and the Art of Driveway Grading

By Callie Oettinger | Published: July 17, 2015

I’m married to a numbers guy who taught me the art involved with math and business. Before him, I ran from numbers.

This afternoon, I spoke with a guy who said there’s an art to grading a driveway. Thinking back to what my husband taught me about numbers, I don’t doubt the art of the driveway grading, but I doubt art as an excuse.

The driveway guy is trying to sell me a new driveway. I live at the bottom of a hill and need a driveway that includes a dip leading up to my garage, so the garage is higher and water isn’t shooting right into it from the driveway. Instead of saying yes to my request for specific grading language in our contract, he said “we only use general words in our contract” and “grading . . . it’s an art” as if the latter made the former better.

Signing a contract with this guy would be the same pitfall I’ve seen so many artists fall into within their careers.

When someone tells you they’re going to do something for you, ask “How?”

When they say they’ll make everything work out, that you’ll be happy, don’t believe them.

Ask questions. (more…)

Posted in What It Takes

What It Takes

What It Takes

A One Page Story Bible

By Shawn Coyne | Published: July 10, 2015

[Join to read more of Shawn’s Stuff]

The subject of today’s post comes from dedicated commenter and Story Nerd, David Kaufmann.

Making Episodes Feel Like Stand Alones

For those of you who’d like to suggest topics for my posts for What it Takes, feel free to email me at Shawn at  I can’t promise that I’ll be able to answer every question, but I’ll do my best to respond.  I’m a digital idiot, so please don’t be offended if you don’t hear back. I still haven’t responded to an invitation to my 25th College Reunion.

Sharing your topics of interest will help me to create stuff that is useful for all.

So here’s David’s question about creating novels that feature a recurring lead character.


Posted in What It Takes
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