What’s the Big Idea? Nonfiction Condensed.
Written by Leslie Watts and Shelley Sperry
Edited by Shawn Coyne

Do you have an idea that’s keeping you up at night or getting you up way too early in the morning?

Your idea won’t let go, and you’re starting to think it might help people understand the world better or solve a problem, so you want to share it. Somehow, it’s not enough to tell your partner or the folks at the coffee shop.

You’ve accepted the awful truth: You need to write a book—maybe what’s known as a “Big Idea” book.

The long journey from big idea to Big Idea book is a scary proposition, especially if it’s your first time. Having a couple of friends along riding shotgun will make it easier.

In What’s the Big Idea? Story Grid editors Leslie Watts and Shelley Sperry provide the map and compass you need to say yes to your writing adventure.

Inside, you’ll find a crash course explaining how to know what kind of nonfiction you’re writing. You’ll discover which scenes, characters, and other elements you must include. And you’ll learn to shape a compelling beginning, middle, and end that will enlighten your readers with a revelation they weren’t expecting.

Now pack a notebook and a snack, and take the first step . . .

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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 Writership.com 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.

Shelley Sperry

SHELLEY SPERRY is a Story Grid Certified Editor, writer, and researcher based in Alexandria, Virginia. She used to work at National Geographic, so she thinks every book is better if it has a cool map, a dramatic landscape, or a lot of penguins. As a writer and researcher, Shelley works with nonprofit and business clients on environmental, labor, and education topics. As an editor, she specializes in nonfiction, helping authors tell true stories about the world. She agrees with Barbara Kingsolver, that “revision is where fine art begins.” You can find her online at SperryEditorial.com. 

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.