The bones of a good story...

perhaps they are malleable after all

Do you know the expression, “There is nothing new under the sun”? I am a writer and if I quantified all of the invitations to attend, participate, or teach a singular or collective theme/skill I likely would have the evidence I need to support this hypothesis. But wait…what if the premise is false?

It doesn’t stop me from deriving vast pleasure when I discover an author I jive with—often over their writing practice vs. a specific genre or oeuvre. Why do I love anything by Joan Didion or Kurt Vonnegut but have yet to align with Neil Gaiman (although I certainly appreciate his immense talent). Maybe the answer is lurking in the story grid.

You know as a writer you must be a prolific reader. How else do you learn the craft? Integrating the listening of podcasts with the hours of trail running has been a godsend. If you are busy and can multitask, I recommend introducing previously linear tasks to a cinematic platform. Something changes when salt air, physical exertion, and quiet darkness of a new morning set the stage for audio.

Steven Pressfield was recently a guest on the Tim Ferriss podcast, Steven Pressfield on The Artist’s Journey, the Wisdom of Little Successes, Shadow Careers, and Overcoming Resistance. There are an abundance of interesting off-ramps for deeper exploration. I read the War of Art. A nice introduction to Steven but I suggest doing your own research. In this interview, Steven introduces us to a writing habit his friend Randy calls “little successes”. I never explored my habitual morning runs or why days where I ignored the urge were ALWAYS less successful. Less successful as a writer, as a mom, any category of humanism works here. Hearing it described as “little successes” that prime your day for excellence was like BOOM.

Well, I digress. No apologies. This is how my mind works. This explains my fascination and recent adventure into the Story Grid.

I don’t know your writing journey or where you might be on the path. I am writing a book with a traditional publisher and simultaneously creating a work of nonfiction for another project. Shawn Coyne created Story Grid after 15 to 20 years developing skills and insights. What if there was a manual as guide to help you evaluate a story or better yet—create a better one?

My first reaction was it would be formulaic. Follow these 5 genres, pick at least one of the elements contained and voila you are taking the road well-traveled.

Clearly it is more complex. Here are a few short videos that can explain the “how” and “why” better than I possibly could. I am on the journey as well and hope to revisit the themes in more detail.

And then the true brilliance of Shawn Coyne was illuminated. You need these elemental themes for each story but the real craft is your creative way of incorporating them.

Here is the sketched story grid for Silence of the Lambs. Yowza. I am slowly sitting with the visual representation of a story framework. I ordered his book. Read a bit of the backstory here Story Grid Books: New Titles to Help You Become a Better Writer.

I will see you on the other side of the rabbit hole ;) Reach out on @datamongerbonny if you want to discuss…

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