Conventions and Obligatory Moments: The Must-haves to Meet Audience Expectations
Written by Kimberly Kessler and Leslie Watts
Edited by Shawn Coyne

As writers, we all struggle to transform the messy raw materials in our minds into stories that will reach readers’ hearts. When it works, it feels like magic.

But what really makes that magic happen?

A few essential components, which Story Grid calls conventions and obligatory moments, can span the distance between writers and readers. It’s those conventions and moments that fulfill readers’ expectations in every story—from gripping action tales to tender romances.

In Conventions and Obligatory Moments, veteran Story Grid editors Kimberly Kessler and Leslie Watts provide the first comprehensive Story Grid guide to these essential elements of the writer’s craft. Kessler and Watts illustrate each concept with examples from classic masterworks, including Treasure Island, Murder on the Orient Express, and Pride and Prejudice. And they situate conventions and obligatory moments within the larger world of the Story Grid methodology, including the Four Core Framework and the Five Commandments of Storytelling. They teach writers precisely how each genre’s conventions set up critical changes, and how obligatory moments pay off those changes to meet readers’ expectations.

Ready to make your own magic?

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Kimberly Kessler

As one-fifth of the Editor Roundtable Podcast, Kim has the divine privilege of nerding out every week studying story. She is obsessed with the internal genres and specializes in helping writers craft authentic character arcs in any setting. Her favorite stories use humor to explore and cope with grief and heartache. Her favorite clients are hungry to learn and bring their full authentic selves to the collaborative process. Nothing is more rewarding than digging in together to uncover the breakthroughs they need.

Leslie Watts

Leslie Watts is a certified Story Grid editor, writer, and podcaster. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember: from her sixth-grade magazine about cats to writing practice while drafting opinions for an appellate court judge. When the dust settled after her children were born, she launched to help writers unearth the treasure in their manuscripts. She believes writers become better storytellers through practice, and that editors owe a duty of care to help writers with specific and supportive guidance to meet reader expectations and express their unique gifts in the world.

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.