Editor Roundtable: Bite Size Edition – Big Idea Nonfiction with Shelley Sperry

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Welcome to the Bite Size Edition of the Editor Roundtable Podcast. Here on the Roundtable we’re dedicated to helping you become a better writer, following the Story Grid method developed by Shawn Coyne. In these episodes we bring you some shorter solo articles and interviews on topics that interest us as writers. 

In this episode, Leslie Watts discusses Big Idea Nonfiction with Story Grid Certified Editor Shelley Sperry.

Shelley Sperry is a Story Grid Certified Editor, writer, and researcher based in Alexandria, Virginia. You can find her online at SperryEditorial.com.

Shelley and I discuss …

  • What is a Big Idea Book?
  • Examples of nonfiction books we love
  • Point of view in nonfiction and the writer’s perspective
  • How do you know which type of nonfiction book you should write?
  • How to collaborate with another writer
  • What are the first steps if you want to write a Big Idea Book?

Books we mentioned in the episode:

  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
  • King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • Lab Girl and The Story of More by Hope Jahren
  • Mitchell & Ruff: An American Profile in Jazz by William Zinsser
  • Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Want to learn more about Big Idea Nonfiction?

Check out these excellent resources:

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: A Story Grid Masterworks Analysis Guide by Shelley Sperry and Leslie Watts

What’s the Big Idea? Nonfiction Condensed by Shelley Sperry and Leslie Watts 

Better still, sign up for the Story Grid Big Idea Nonfiction Seminar.

Join the Roundtable Editors next week for our season seven trailer to find out what topics we’ll be studying and which stories are up first.

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About Leslie Watts

Leslie Watts is a certified Story Grid editor, writer, and podcaster. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember: from her sixth-grade magazine about cats to writing practice while drafting opinions for an appellate court judge. When the dust settled after her children were born, she launched Writership.com to help writers unearth the treasure in their manuscripts. She believes writers become better storytellers through practice, and that editors owe a duty of care to help writers with specific and supportive guidance to meet reader expectations and express their unique gifts in the world.

About Shelley Sperry

Shelley Sperry is an editor, writer, and researcher based in Alexandria, Virginia. She
used to work at National Geographic, so she thinks every book is better if it has a cool
map, a dramatic landscape, or a lot of penguins. As an editor, Shelley specializes in nonfiction, helping authors tell true stories about the world. With co-author Leslie Watts, she will publish a Story Grid masterwork guide to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point in 2020. Shelley agrees with Barbara Kingsolver, that “revision is where fine art begins.” You can find her online at SperryEditorial.com.