What is Story Grid?
Story Grid is an editing method that examines the structure of your novel. It’s focused on story form and is designed to pinpoint what is, and is not, working in your story. It gives you specific, concrete and actionable advice so you can fix problem areas and write a book that your audience will love.If you’ve never heard of Story Grid, I encourage you to read Shawn Coyne’s book The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know
, listen to The Story Grid Podcast
and The Story Grid Editor Roundtable Podcast
. What do you mean by story structure and principles of storytelling?
The concept of story structure goes way back to Aristotle’s Poetics. It’s the idea that stories have a form that makes them pleasing to audiences. For example, they have a beginning, middle and end, they have scenes that contain five key elements which in Story Grid parlance are the Five Commandments of Storytelling, they turn on values and so on. What do you mean by “a story that works”?
When a story works, it satisfies audience expectations. Readers can’t put it down because it has characters they love (or love to hate) and a storyline that keeps them engaged from page one all the way through to the end. What is developmental editing and how is it different from other types of editing?
There are five types of editors.
1. Developmental Editors look at a story as a whole and examine its form/structure. We’re focused on whether a story works, or doesn’t work.
2. Acquisitions Editors work for publishing houses and are responsible for buying, or acquiring, a title for publication.
3. Line Editors (aka Style or Content Editors) are concerned with an author’s voice or style. They are not concerned with whether a story works as a whole, instead they focus on awkward turns of phrase, repetition and so on.
4. Copy Editors read for grammar, spelling and punctuation. In non-fiction, they also check facts and edit footnotes.
5. Proofreaders are the last to see a manuscript before publication. They’re reading for typos and any errors the copy editor may have missed. How is Story Grid editing different from other developmental editing?
Most developmental editors provide feedback based on their gut instinct. Something about a story won’t feel right to them, and they’ll offer various suggestions for improvement. The Story Grid is different because it can pinpoint problem areas and prescribe solutions that work. There is no guessing. What does it mean to be a Certified Story Grid Editor?
Right now, there are only 19 Certified Story Grid Editors. You can find them here
. As a Certified Story Grid Editor, my training began in May 2017 with weekly film analyses (similar to what I now do on the Story Grid Editor Roundtable Podcast). In September 2017, I studied directly with Shawn Coyne during an intense 5-day, 3-night session. Since then, I continue to deepen my understanding of his method through daily study and application of his principles of storytelling, the weekly podcast
, client work and through having written a Story Grid Guide of Dracula (publication date TBA). Of course I continue to work with, and receive advice and guidance from, Shawn.