In the Weeds

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My last post, Hitting the Wall, struck a chord with a number of readers and I’ve received a lot of incisive comments about my views on the Five Commandments of Storytelling and their application to Big Idea Nonfiction.

So first of all, I have to thank everyone who took the time to go down that rabbit hole with me.

Here’s a comment indicative of the level of discourse:

Shawn, you say that, “I confess that the bottom three quarters of my Foolscap page for The Tipping Point gives me great anxiety.” It shouldn’t. Provided you don’t confuse the Scientific Method with Research. There are many ‘methods’ of ‘research’. The nature of the arc of your argument is key to applying which ‘method’ is the best to apply to your ‘research data’. There are different methodologies of doing research and investigating the data in your field: psychology, social, science, organizations, gender issues and so on. Going to the ‘Scientific’ research approach to analyze the Data in and methodology on “Tipping Point” misses several other much more useful and properly applicable approaches to what is essentially a semiotic and psychological treatise on ‘memes’. I would have use a “qualitative” methodology rather than shoe-horn a ‘quantitative – pseudo-scientific’ methodology into a literature analysis. Your argument can be better, much better, and more appropriately investigated using other methodological approaches.
You are at the front end of the boat here – the rudder wheel is at the back of the boat – much easier to steer through the shoals of a literature analysis from there.

I admit that creating a crude five step version of The Scientific Method that correlates with the Five Commandments of Storytelling for fiction may not prove to be the be all/end all of Big Idea nonfiction story structure principles.

Yikes that’s a helluva sentence! We are some serious Story Nerds here to be even contemplating this stuff! But hey it’s fun and there is a payoff for all of our waxing and waning.

I’m certain of it.

I’m also certainly not wed to my thesis quite yet. (But my gut tells me I’m absolutely on the right track) I need to put it into practice, to test it in terms of my broader Story Grid methodology. And as I’m writing these posts as I’m formulating my ideas, it’s tough.

But it should be. If it weren’t tough, there would be no point. I’d just be reiterating what I’m already certain of, walking you through yet another perfectly fitting example of my erudition. I could easily Storygrid The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and innumerable others, and there is value in that, but I wouldn’t learn all that much doing it.

But I don’t want to look like an idiot either.

So what to do?

Should I put a pin in this for now, sign off for a few months and run to the library? I could then fill in all of the obvious holes in my reasoning that incisive readers of the blog have brought to my attention.

I confess that I’m not up to speed on semiotic and psychological treatises on ‘memes,’ the history of Philology, or a number of other very tempting subjects to immerse myself in that could prove invaluable tools to perfecting my machine.

And I admit those holes in my education embarrass me. Where do I get off writing about The Scientific Method as it applies to Nonfiction prose when I don’t know all of the nuances?

Why not take the time to educate myself, do more research, to cover over the holes in my thinking… Then when I come back to it, I’ll be refreshed and ready to hit this project again with renewed fervor and confidence. I’ll be able to answer the hard questions about all of the sprockets and coils involved in Big Idea Nonfiction Storygridding as well as its global machinery.

Plus I can finish a whole slew of other work I’ve put on the backburner since I started this project. I need to edit those two books that I know I how to fix with minimal effort. I have to take care of that health insurance issue, get some bids on replacing that section of roof on the shed that needs to be replaced, and obviously spend more time with the kids…

Makes sense right?

But in Hitting the Wall I also referenced a book that Steve Pressfield wrote and Black Irish published with Seth Godin’s Domino Project called Do the Work.

Here’s a chunk from the very beginning that I need to remind myself right this very moment.

Stay Stupid

The three dumbest guys I can think of: Charles Lindbergh, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill. Why? Because any smart person who understood how impossibly arduous were the tasks they had set themselves would have pulled the plug before he even began.

Ignorance and arrogance are the artist and entrepreneur’s indispensable allies. She must be clueless enough to have no idea how difficult her enterprise is going to be—and cocky enough to believe she can pull it off anyway.

And this:

Be Stubborn

Once we commit to action, the worst thing we can do is to stop.

More to come.

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

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Shawn Coyne

SHAWN COYNE created, developed, and expanded the story analysis and problem-solving methodology The Story Grid throughout his quarter-century-plus book publishing career. A seasoned story editor, book publisher and ghostwriter, Coyne has also co-authored The Ones Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, The Cowboys, the ’70s and the Fight For America’s Soul with Chad Millman and Cognitive Dominance: A Brain Surgeon’s Quest to Out-Think Fear with Mark McLaughlin, M.D. With his friend and editorial client Steven Pressfield, Coyne runs Black Irish Entertainment LLC, publisher of the cult classic book The War of Art. With his friend and editorial client Tim Grahl, Coyne oversees the Story Grid Universe, LLC, which includes Story Grid University and Story Grid Publishing.