A 3-Day Seminar for Writers and Editors

August 6-8, 2021
Nashville, TN & Virtual


We’ve been told that Story plots have three dimensions:

Character Development
and World Building

But what exactly do each of those terms mean?

Do people have to literally fight all the time?

Do I have to “develop” all of the characters in my story? And what kind of development?

Do I build an entire world before or after I figure out the conflict and the character development?

And once I’ve done all of that, how do I get all of these parts to work together and morph into a greater whole?

How can you logically approach
telling your story in 3D?

How do you check to make sure you’ve done so?

That’s what the Story Grid Trinity is all about...

Demystifying squishy language and giving you a practical step-by-step game plan to level up your story skills.

You probably have a shelf (or six shelves) full of books on the writer’s craft.

And you’ve probably taken a few (or a dozen) courses on writing.

When you look back at all those books and courses, do you ever feel like you’re stuck in that ancient parable about the blind men and the elephant? Each of the men touched a different part of the elephant, and each came away understanding only a fraction of the whole animal—never the true nature of the beast.

The truth is, each craft book and teacher has given you a glimpse of just one part of the elephant. No one has shown you the true nature of Story—until now.


The Story Grid Trinity is the best path to becoming the writer you really want to be.

Writing in one or two dimensions doesn’t work. To make a lasting impact on readers, you need to build your story in all three dimensions.

  • Conflict affects and is affected by the characters and world building of your story.
  • Characters affect and are affected by conflict and world building.
  • World building affects and is affected by conflict and characters.

It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But until now, most writers have been thinking of the problem in the wrong way—bit-by-bit and unscientifically.

How is the Story Grid Trinity Seminar different?

In the seminar, we step back and use some powerful lenses to get a better, truer perspective on the whole elephant. We enter into conversations with thinkers, scientists, and writers from the past and present so we can see Story from all angles.

Story Grid’s approach is based on:

  • Cognitive science;
  • Evolutionary theory;
  • Ancient and modern philosophy, including the works of Aristotle, Plato, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell; and
  • Historical and contemporary masterworks, with a deep dive into one of the world’s greatest—J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

Who came up with the
Story Grid Trinity?

Shawn Coyne

Shawn Coyne is the creator and founder of Story Grid. He has worked in the publishing industry for 30 years, including 25 as an editor at New York publishing houses. He has been an independent publisher and a literary agent. His projects have grossed more than $150 million in North America alone.

In early 2015, Shawn published The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know, and later that year started the Story Grid Podcast with writer and book marketing expert, Tim Grahl. Since then, he has been refining the Story Grid tools and developing an even more comprehensive approach to the science and art of storytelling.

Here is a partial list of authors whose works Shawn has acquired, edited, published or represented:

James Bamford, John Brenkus, James Lee Burke, Barbara Bush, Dick Butkus, Harlan Coben, Nellie Connally, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Ben Crenshaw, Catherine Crier, Brett Favre, David Feherty, John Feinstein, Tyler Florence, Jim Gant, Col. David H. Hackworth, Jamie Harrison, Mo Hayder, William Hjortsberg, Stephen Graham Jones, Jon Krakauer, David Leadbetter, Alan Lomax, David Mamet, Troon McAllister, Robert McKee, Matthew Modine, Bill Murray, Joe Namath, John J. Nance, Jack Olsen, Scott Patterson, Steven Pressfield, Matthew Quirk, Anita Raghavan, Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell, Jerry Rice, Giora Romm, Tim Rosaforte, William Safire, Dava Sobel, Michael Thomas, Nick Tosches, Ann Scott Tyson, Minette Walters, Betty White, Randy Wayne White, Steven White and Don Winslow.

What actually happens at the
Story Grid Trinity Seminar?

Each day Shawn will talk about one dimension of the Trinity and how it integrates with and supports the other two.


Day 1: Conflict and the Story On the Surface

Every great story has a physical, on-the-surface component that involves the characters’ behaviors, the actions they take to pursue their goals.


Day 2: Character Development and the Story Above the Surface

Every great story also has an intellectual, above-the-surface component that involves the characters’ motivations to take action and their capacity to solve problems, mature, or otherwise change the way they think about the world around them.


Day 3: World Building and the Story Beyond...

And every great story has a spiritual, beyond-the-surface component that transcends the individual and reaches into the eternal realm of our collective unconscious. This is the realm of our deepest, mythic Truths that ripple and repeat through Time.

On each day of the seminar, we’ll look at the Trinity through the powerful lens of J. R. R. Tolkien’s timeless fantasy, The Hobbit.

By analyzing one masterwork in depth, we’ll see all the multi-faceted structures of Story at work. And we’ll take a few lessons from Tolkien on how to entertain, inspire, and even transform our readers.

At the end of each day, we’ll have time for a Q & A session so you can quiz Shawn himself, share revelations, and learn from each other.

Bonus Materials Provided to All Participants



We are professionally filming the 3-day event and you will have access to the recording.



Access an exclusive forum where you can interact with other participants and ask questions throughout the event.


  • A Story Grid Spreadsheet template to help you analyze your own stories and the masterworks you’re studying in the context of Conflict, Character, and World Building.
  • The most detailed Story Grid Spreadsheet on a masterwork ever released: Shawn’s analysis of The Hobbit.
  • A 20-scene checklist that includes an explanation of the interplay between genre and each dimension of storytelling.
  • An “explainer” about character archetypes.
  • Cheat sheet about Point of View and Narrative Devices.

Daily Schedule

All times in the Central (CDT) timezone.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

9:00am - 10:30am  

Session 1

10:30am - 10:45am


10:45am - 12:00pm  

Session 2 and Q&A

12:00pm - 1:00pm  


1:00pm - 2:30pm  

Session 3

2:30pm - 2:45pm


2:45pm - 4:30pm

Session 4 and Q&A


We are offering two options for attending this seminar.


Join us in Nashville, TN to experience the seminar live.

  • Experience the training live, in-person with Shawn Coyne and fellow participants.
  • Providing a chat room for all in-person and virtual participants to interact.
  • Ask questions throughout the training.
  • Providing all materials printed ahead of time for you to use during the training.

907 Gleaves St Nashville, TN 37203


Join us virtually to watch live and participate remotely.

  • Live streaming the full seminar — all training and Q&A.
  • Providing a chat room for all in-person and virtual participants to interact.
  • Providing a "proxy" to ask questions and provide feedback live on behalf of virtual participants.
  • Providing all materials used in-person to be printed ahead of time.

Ready to join Shawn and your fellow Story Nerds?

By the end of the Story Grid Trinity Seminar, you’ll have the confidence to create a 3D model of your story. You’ll no longer be taking blind stabs at fitting the pieces for the seminar.

In-person Ticket

Join us in Nashville, TN at the amazing Wellspire event center. Lunch every day will be provided.

Once you sign up, we will send you the details on the event along with the logistics and recommend lodging options.

Maximum of 30 21 in-person tickets available.

$329/mo for 6 months

- or -


Virtual Ticket

Join us virtually and take part in the daily sessions and Q&As.

Once you register, we will send you information on how to access the event and digital logistics.

$329/month for 6 months

- or -



What are you doing in regards to COVID-19?

All adults in the United States are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines.

Because of this, we are not requiring social distancing or masks during the event. However, we are limiting the size of the event and are taking the following precautions. This includes:

  • Providing a hand sanitizing station for use by each participant before entering the venue.
  • Providing hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue, including in the venue lounge, boardrooms, bathrooms and common areas.
  • Disinfecting surfaces with antibacterial cleaning solution throughout event days.
  • Requiring venue staff to wear masks and gloves while preparing, serving, and/or touching any food or beverage item.
  • Minimizing staff. A maximum of two venue staff members will be present on site at any one time.
  • Temperature screening venue staff before entering the venue.
  • Restricting catering partners from entering the venue. All food and beverage will be dropped off and individually packaged and/or wrapped. 
  • Restricting self-serve food, coffee and water. All food will be individually wrapped and beverages will be individually canned or bottled. 
  • Requiring professional cleaning and disinfecting at the end of each event day.
  • Providing signage throughout the venue labeling safety measures and best practices.

How will this work for those attending virtually?

While we cannot recreate the full experience of attending in-person, we are working to provide the best virtual experience possible. This includes:

  • Live streaming the full seminar — all training and Q&A.
  • Providing a chat room for all in-person and virtual participants to interact.
  • Providing a "proxy" to ask questions and provide feedback live on behalf of virtual participants.
  • Providing all materials used in-person to be printed ahead of time.
  • Provide virtual breakout rooms to work with other participants on in-seminar exercises.

Will we get a recording of the event?

Yes! We are having the event professionally filmed and recorded. You will get access to the full recording in November.

What is your refund policy?

Because of the cost and timing of the event, we are not offering refunds. However, we allow for ticket transfer up until one week before the event.