Story Grid 101: The Five First Principles of the Story Grid Methodology

Shawn Coyne

What are the first principles in writing a story that works?

At Story Grid, it’s easy to get distracted by the tools, spreadsheets, commandments, macro lense, micro lense, and on and on. However, all of this eventually comes back to five first principles.

In Story Grid 101, Story Grid founder Shawn Coyne distills 30 years of experience working with writers to build their stories into five principles:

  • Stories are made up of distinct parts, or units.
  • Stories are about change.
  • The change that happens in stories concerns Universal Human Values, the things that most people would say are necessary to survive and thrive in the world—or alternatively, the things that keep us from surviving and thriving.
  • Each unit of story has a Story Event, a one-sentence distillation of what’s happening and what value is changing.
  • Within each story unit we find a pattern of change we call the Five Commandments of Storytelling.

Also inside of Story Grid 101, Shawn also introduces you to the fundamental tools:

  • The Foolscap and Editor’s Six Core Questions
  • The Spreadsheet
  • The Infographic
  • The Four Core Framework
  • Story’s Boundaries

Story Grid 101 is for anyone new to Story Grid who needs a primer on how we approach our craft.

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ABOUT

What are the first principles in writing a story that works?

At Story Grid, it’s easy to get distracted by the tools, spreadsheets, commandments, macro lense, micro lense, and on and on. However, all of this eventually comes back to five first principles.

In Story Grid 101, Story Grid founder Shawn Coyne distills 30 years of experience working with writers to build their stories into five principles:

  • Stories are made up of distinct parts, or units.
  • Stories are about change.
  • The change that happens in stories concerns Universal Human Values, the things that most people would say are necessary to survive and thrive in the world—or alternatively, the things that keep us from surviving and thriving.
  • Each unit of story has a Story Event, a one-sentence distillation of what’s happening and what value is changing.
  • Within each story unit we find a pattern of change we call the Five Commandments of Storytelling.

Also inside of Story Grid 101, Shawn also introduces you to the fundamental tools:

  • The Foolscap and Editor’s Six Core Questions
  • The Spreadsheet
  • The Infographic
  • The Four Core Framework
  • Story’s Boundaries

Story Grid 101 is for anyone new to Story Grid who needs a primer on how we approach our craft.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.