For the Ramen Noodle Eaters

We’ve come to the end of the line for the meat and potatoes of The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know big textbook content.

The book will be available to all of you at a special price, along with some other goodies, sometime during the week of April 27th at Black Irish Books.  I’ll make announcements with links etc. here too, as well as at Steve Pressfield’s site . And I’ll email everyone who has signed up to the editorial department too. We won’t offer it to anyone else at the usual retail outlets until you’ve plundered our stock.  Thanks for your patience!

I think it’s only fitting to go back to why it all began and to share with you the book’s preface.  So here it is:


In the days, months and years to come, it is my intention to map out Story Grids for as many novels (and some key nonfiction works) as possible. You can follow my work at and get free access to everything I do.

No joke. It’s free.

Would I prefer that you buy this expensive textbook instead? Pay even more to view or attend lectures? Hire me for an outrageous sum to give you personal tips?

Well, sure I would.

But, here’s the thing:

When I started out, there were very few people in book publishing who shared what they knew. Almost no one would. So I had to learn 99.9% of what I know and what I write about in this book myself. It took me twenty-two years to do that. And three years to write this book.

I can only wonder what I would have been able to do if I were given access to this information all those years ago. For Free!

I was broke back then. I walked a lot of times to work because I didn’t want to spend the subway fare to get there. And I spent practically every weekend at my desk at the publishing office because where I lived was…dark, dank and depressing. Plus it had no air conditioning in the summer and poor heat in the winter.

But I would have done the same thing even if I had lived in the penthouse of Trump Tower.

I love what I do and I’m not complaining about my life’s path or work. I just think it would have been incredible if there were something like The Story Grid available to me back then.

So if you’re that man or woman eating ramen noodles every night and staying every waking hour at the office trying to figure out how to write a great Story or edit a great Story, go to and dive into the archives. You’ll get everything you need there. And after you’ve sold your novel or gotten that big job, buy a copy of this book and give it to someone like you were…before you made it big or even just big enough. And continue the conversation.

Stories are the most important things we humans can create.

We need more Story nerds! As one to another, I hope you get something out of this book to make your work better.

Shawn Coyne

New York

March 2015

Next up is an announcement about what I’m going to Story Grid next!

For new subscribers and OCD Story nerds like myself, all of The Story Grid posts are now in order on the right hand side column of the home page beneath the subscription shout-out.


About the Author

Comments (38)
Author Shawn Coyne


Jack Price says:

Shawn, I hope Black Irish prints the book on sturdy stock, otherwise I’ll wear it out in a year. Like the old Steve Allen song says, This could be the start of something big — for you and for us. Best of luck, Jack

Mary Doyle says:

The Muse knew what she was doing when she tapped your shoulder to do this work. Spending two-plus decades to figure this out and memorialize it is a testament to your dedication and tenacity. The act of sharing it with those of us who showed up here week after week is generosity exemplified.

Countdown to the 27th! You deserve all the success that I trust is coming your way with this!

Joel D Canfield says:

Brief moment of panic while I check my travel calendar . . . whew. We’ll be nicely settled for a week in Phoenix on that date, with friends who’d rather skip eating than lose their internet access.

The way you and Steve and Callie market things continues to prove something I say all the time: generosity is your greatest marketing tool.

steve says:

and the story continues, sort of like it should by its own means, thanks a bunch

Averil Head says:

Hi Shawn, as a novice, novice… I am so happy I happened onto this site. It has been a great journey so far. Thank you and Steve……

Michael Beverly says:

Thank you Shawn.

When I was studying to become an oil painter (a seascape painter, living on Maui, apprentice to one of the greatest seascape painters alive today) he explained to me how many of his tricks of the trade were learned after years and years of painful study and work, trial and error. Deconstruction. He also thought he was Aizazovsky reincarnated, but that’s another story.

He traveled to mall shows (this was back in the 1970’s) often living out of a van, and drying paintings with a blow dryer to get them dry in time for a show.

Not me, I was learning in weeks what he’d taken years to learn.

It’s an amazing gift to give. And shows a true heart and love of the art, and a compassion for people. I’m insanely grateful.

What happened to my art career?

I turned down a Faustian bargain.

Writing is a purer art anyway. Sour grapes? I don’t know, but I’m glad I’m here.

EHO says:

“tricks of the trade are learned after years and years of painful work and study, trial and error…. “Old School stuff” that is always new to learn and so important to be reminded… Can’t wait to read Story Grid… I started in Advertising as a graphic designer, Grids turn me on!

Jonathan Ball says:

I’d be curious to see a review copy — I am at the info above and also PO Box 70043 Kenaston PO Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3P 0X6

Jonathan Ball says:

PS you can just delete that comment if you want. Although you can also post it, that is my public mailing address, also on the site.

David says:

You know what else I’m learning from this series (perhaps unintentionally)?

How to market a book.

I’d love to see a post-mortem after everything is done and finished about marketing and selling the book.

Ariana Browning says:

Can’t wait! And I wish you the absolute best success with both the book and this site, wherever you end up taking it. I’ll still be following. Signed up recently for the forum (thanks Joel D Canfield!) and plan to pop in there as much as I can too. 😀

Kent Faver says:

I hope you sell a million and one copies Shawn – or more. You deserve it.

Jule Kucera says:

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and this feels like that. You’ve said you don’t care about sales and I believe you. And still, I wish you sales. More than that, I wish you stories that people send you because they were able to tell the story because you taught them (us) how. I wish for lots of stories that shape the world views of lots of people because with the right stories under our belts we can make smart choices, like walk out of the twin towers rather than go back in for pictures of our kids. I wish for all of us that we honor your work by using what you have so generously taught us.

Robert W. Hakim says:

Thank you for the common good. My crossing the river into screenwriting has been self taught from articles like yours. Thanks for people like yourself, willing to share.

Frank Connolly says:

Hi Shawn,
Thank you for the best writing advice I’ve ever read – I’ve just reached An Editor’s Six Core Questions. As an elder lemon newbie and would-be novelist, and a retired teacher of French and English, I never cease to be amazed by how little I really know.
Your story grid is just a fantastically wonderful exposition of how it should be done. I’m also so impressed by your generosity of spirit in making all this information available for free. I intend, in whatever little ways I can, to promote your upcoming book. It’s the least you deserve.
Many many thanks again, and I look forward to your future posts.
Best wishes,

Bob Watson says:

Thanks for sharing your insights so freely. I have eagerly followed each of your posts these last months. Now I eagerly look forward to the book.
Thanks again.

Herbert Exner says:

My only book shelf has only about 50 places…it’s in principle organized as a stack (but with reverse gravity – better books sink slower)…The Story Grid will be placed at the top level…next to S Wolfram’s NKS, A Brown’s Red Blooded Risk, R Dawkins’ A River Flows From Eden…another book will drop out at the bottom…

It’s barbarian, I know…

Elise M. Stone says:

Had to add my thanks for this educational and enlightening series. I’m not quite at ramen level, but am watching my pennies, so probably won’t buy the book. I definitely will recommend it, though.

And I’m looking forward to future posts with story grids for other novels.

Ulla Lauridsen says:

Finally. Thank God. This has been the most excrutiatingly drawn out foreplay ever.

Siobhan McCulloch-Orr says:

I’m eating the Ramen Noodles; the whole family is….but I’m buying the book anyway so I can attack it with markers and pencils and coffee stains. What you’ve done here for writers is beyond wonderful and I’m confident Karma has and will continue to find its way to you.

David Villalva says:

G Luck here. (I’m in for a couple copies). And thanks because my brain processes info the way you’re delivering it! Well done all around and I hope to help more people just like you. THANKS

Jim WIlbourne says:

Not only do I plan to indulge in the free content you provide, I will also be buying a copy of your book. Not just because I would like a physical reference copy, but because I honestly feel like you’ve given me so much insight that I’m compelled to send you something.
I believe this is one of the single best resources I’ve ever stumbled upon. I’m mid first draft in my first book and, although I knew some of these things already, the way you broke it down brought an entirely new and valuable spin to the topic.
Instead of taking several failed novels to learn these concepts, you’ve made me several years smarter than I was just a few months ago. That is absolutely invaluable as time is much more valuable than money.

Tricia says:

Thanks for all your work, Shawn. Looking forward to the 27th. I’ll be buying both a physical and an ebook. One to mark up, one to clean read. Next best thing to having someone to bounce ideas off of.

Congrats on getting to ‘ship’!

Tina Goodman says:

I can’t wait to get my copy!

Personally, I think other humans are the most important things humans create, but Story is up near the top of the list.

Sinakhone Keodara says:

Hi Shawn! Just bought a copy of your book. And, no shame here, but I have to admit that I am or have been one of those ramen noodles eaters that you wrote about in your book and on this page here. Reading your words made be combust in tears cause someone else has, is and will most likely go through what I’ve gone through in the last 9 years that I’ve been on this long and winding path ever since I moved to Hollywood. I can’t wait to dive into this book but wanted to take some time to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I felt so much compassion for what you went through, and, in essence, and in putting the ‘starving artist’ aside, for myself as the path of a writer is a difficult one. Your generosity is endless! Much love and respect my brother!

Jim Starr says:

Did anyone else feel a combination of pride and see-I’m-not-a-total-geek-after-all vindication when they read the endorsement Seth Godin gave Shawn’s book on his blog today? (and I quote:) “PS Shawn Coyne’s book about editing your stories is just out. A keeper.”

Hey, wait a minute. That means he got to peek.

Brian says:

I’ve just finished re-reading the Story Grid posts for the third time. This time, a new value of these methods (for me) came clear as I finished.

Like many endeavors, writing is both a craft and an art. The Story Grid allows me to separate the two, more or less. Especially using the Foolscap which is really my outline. I concentrate on the structure, the obligatory scenes, and conventions. I string together the plot, subplots, pithy beats, and backstory into something coherent. What can I strengthen before I move on?

Writing the first draft has now become a directed deep dive into creativity. As I implied, it isn’t all craft then all art, but the separation helps me focus on each stage of the project. And the first draft is so much more fun to write.

During the writing of the first draft, things always change, so I stop somewhere before the end of an Act or the Mid-Point. I find it helpful to consider where the story has gone before I reach the climax of an act or the whole story. I ask myself if I have gone off track or have I built up to a surprising climax that stands on what has gone before, or do I need to strengthen certain scenes. Most importantly, I ask myself if I like my MC, my story, and what has to happen next to make me want to keep reading it.

I want to thank Shawn and all who added comments. I am a better writer because of you.


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