What is your story to tell?

Writing isn't the hard part. Anyone can put words on a page.

How do you tell a story that works?


You’ve been writing for awhile now. Maybe you’ve even gotten that daily writing habit down.

You’re writing. That’s the point, right? That’s what you want to be. A writer… someone who writes.

And you hear that all the time.

“A writer writes. All you have to do to be a writer is write.”

Which is true.

I guess…


You’re still unsatisfied. Because the truth is, you don’t want to just be a writer.

You want to be an accomplished writer, a storyteller that dazzles readers.

So you’re writing, but the writing isn’t working. There are problems in your stories. You know there are, and you're willing to tackle the problems.

You get feedback, but it’s always this vague “it doesn’t really work” stuff. And so you keep writing, grinding away, making the same mistakes, and here’s the constant, frustrating tragedy…

You’re wasting your words.

Your writing time is precious. You probably have to fight for it. Get up early, stay up late, skip your lunch breaks. You steal 30 minutes here, an hour there to rewrite a scene or try to get those 1000 words done.

And then when you do get the words written and get feedback, they tell you that your story doesn’t work.

But the feedback you get isn’t helpful:

“That character isn’t really believable.”

“The dialogue is a little ‘meh.’”

“It’s too long.”

“It’s too short.”

“You need to fix the ending.”

All of which kills the passion for your work.

Imagine if you had the same conversation with a car mechanic:

Me: “Did you take a look at my car?”

Mechanic: “Yeah, something is wrong with it.”

Me: “Yeah...I kind of thought that, but I wasn’t sure. What’s wrong with it?”

Mechanic: “Your engine isn’t running right.”

Me: “Ok, what’s wrong with it?”

Mechanic: “It’s running a little soft.”

Me: “Ok… what does that mean?”

Mechanic: “It’s just not working for me.”

Me: “Which part? What needs to be fixed?”

Mechanic: “I don’t know. You just need to work on it.”

Me: [falls to knees sobbing]

This is the exact kind of feedback you get on your writing!

And it doesn’t help.

But you don't quit. You go back and keep writing only to make the same mistakes again, and again, and again.

What is this going to take?

You hear stories about great writers slogging it out for a decade, living in their vans, reaching all is lost moments before they could write anything that was any good.

So you console yourself that you’ll get through your own all is lost moment soon, and then the muse will come to you and tell you her secrets.

But here’s the thing…

First, you are getting further behind.

Every day that passes without you getting better at your craft is a day that you’re not reaching your dream of being a full-time writer. It’s another book that you didn’t publish. It’s another story that didn’t get written.

Second, people don’t magically get better at things.

You’ve heard this, right?

“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

When you’re learning a new musical instrument, you know pretty quickly when you do something wrong because it sounds awful.

If you’re on a basketball team, your coach can quickly point out issues with your movement.

But with writing, it’s different.

You can sit and churn out hundreds of thousands of words for years without knowing what you’re doing wrong.

So years go by, and you keep making the same mistakes, but you can’t figure out how to fix them.

Third, agents and publishers won’t help either.

Maybe you’ve already submitted your manuscript to a few agents and publishers, and you’ve gotten those rejection letters (if they respond at all). The problem is they don’t know why your book isn’t working either.

They took a quick read through, decided it wasn’t for them, and shot you the same form letter everyone else gets.

In the end, you’re still in the same spot...

Working and writing hard with no clear understanding of why you’re not getting better.

You start to wonder if any of this is worth it.

Maybe you just don’t have what it takes.

I’ve been there.

A little about me…

My name is Tim Grahl, and I’ve dreamed of being a writer for a long time. I started out blogging and then wrote a couple of non-fiction books, but that never really scratched the itch.

I wanted to write fiction.

And I had tried several times, but everything I wrote was awful. Like, objectively, anyone would say it was horrible.

So I would sit down and try to write again, and once again, it was still bad.

When I asked my writer friends what needed to be fixed, I got the same unhelpful feedback as you do.

And so I would stop for awhile. Then NaNoWriMo would come along, and I’d try to write again, but realize pretty quickly that it still wasn’t working, so I’d stop again.

Finally, I decided to figure this thing out.

Let me introduce you to…

Shawn Coyne

Shawn Coyne

I knew Shawn was a story fixer.

He’s been an editor for over 25 years and has worked with big name authors like Harlan Coben, Steven Pressfield, James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and brought dozens of bestsellers into the world.

When he started in the publishing industry, Shawn was surprised that the big time gatekeeper editors didn’t have a clear way to communicate with their authors either. They were offering the same vague, actionless advice as everyone else.

So he decided to fix the problem.

Shawn devised a way to analytically look at a scene, story, or novel and tell writers in precise detail what wasn’t working, what needed to be fixed, and how to fix it.

It’s called The Story Grid.

No soft “it’s not really working” stuff here.

Exact “your third scene has no crisis” or “at the end of your middle build you need to add a scene where the hero is at the mercy of the villain” kind of feedback.

Stuff you can actually do.

So I started working with Shawn.

After a couple of months, I sent him my first scene to critique, and it took an hour for him to get through all the problems.

Me: [falls to knees sobbing]


He gave me real problems to fix. He was able to use the Story Grid methodology to pinpoint what was wrong with my writing and, most importantly, what needed to be fixed.

Fast forward a year… I decided to enter a short story contest with over 400 entrants.

I was nervous.

I’d never done this before, and it was going to be the first test of me writing my story and putting it out into the world completely on my own.

So I wrote the first draft.

Then I went back through it, and I edited using everything Shawn had taught me about the Story Grid method.

I found several problems with the story and fixed them. I identified places in the writing where I was breaking fundamental rules of storytelling, and I fixed those.

Then I submitted my story…

The result?

Writing Contest Results

That’s right… that’s me right there. My story got fourth place in a contest that over 400 writers signed up for.

THEN, a few month's later, I got fourth place again in the Summer Writing Contest!

Writing Contest Results

In just over a year, I went from writing that was consistently bad and unreadable to getting in the top 1% of writers. Twice.

Here’s the real time-saver though:

I’m not just a better re-writer.

My new story ideas are much better!

When I think up new fictional worlds, I know which ones are workable and which ones aren’t long before I bang through 100,000 words that go nowhere.

The Story Grid teaches you how to outline a workable idea before you set one finger on your keypad.

I’ve learned, in detail, how to separate a great idea from a go-nowhere idea.

I can look at writing now and apply the simple principles and tools of Story Grid and immediately identify problems and come up with solutions before I draft a single word of prose.

And as I write, I unconsciously self-edit and catch huge mistakes before I make them.

Instead of a ten-year, multi-million-word prison sentence learning storytelling structure the hard way (micro step by micro step), I was able to make huge leaps and bounds in months.

Now, in 2020, I have published my first novel, The Threshing, and I'm over halfway done with my second one!

And I’m not the only one…

Here's what other Story Grid students have to say:

"Story Grid has given me an objective method to evaluate story and see what I cannot otherwise identify when reading the manuscript." Leslie Watts, host of the Writership Podcast

"In the past, I've had the habit of quitting a project whenever I got stuck, but the Story Grid has taught me to zoom out to the global/telescopic view of the story during these moments. The practice of always keeping the global story in mind has helped me solve so many problems and has kept me working." Joanna Marsh, author of Cantique

"I'm a big-structure/world builder to a fault. Story Grid has given me permission to bring that structure-mindedness to a scene level and it's really gotten me writing. I'm on Chapter 9 of my first novel. I've never gotten that far and I've been writing for a long time." Ashley Blincow

"Story Grid is like night-vision goggles that let me see the hot spots and the cold, dead spots in my story." Anne Hawley

"Story Grid allows me to navigate the macro and micro of my story in tandem, always spot the essential right thing I need and move forward." Kimberly Kessler

So now the question is, how do you step up to this writing level?

There are a lot of “systems” out there for writing better. And there are a ton of free resources and self-proclaimed writing gurus.

So why isn’t any of that working?

The problem is when you try to use them, and you hit a roadblock. And then it’s impossible to figure out what you’re doing wrong.

There are 3 things that are killing your progress as a writer:

1. You don’t know why your writing isn’t working.

You’ll read a scene or an act and feel like something is off, but you can’t figure out exactly what it is and how to fix it. The feedback you get from your writing group or submitting to agents and publishers confirms that your story isn't working, but you never get prescriptive advice to change it so that it will work.

2. You mistake getting blocked on what to do next with a lack of imagination.

You’ll get halfway through the novel and somehow lose the narrative throughline. It’s like taking a walk in the woods and suddenly realizing you’re no longer on the path, but can’t tell when you lost it. You think you’re just not creative enough to find your way out when all you really need is to check a reliable storytelling compass.

3. You keep wasting words.

It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to write stuff that you end up throwing out, but those mistakes and trashed words should be leading to something. If you’re not getting progressively better, then you need to change your strategy. Deliberately! You don’t have to be Einstein to understand that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

So how do you solve these problems?


The Story Grid Love Story Training


The Story Grid is a prescriptive writing method built on thousands of years of story structure analysis from Plato and Aristotle to Joseph Campbell, Thomas Friedman, and Robert McKee. The result is a writing system instrumental to the success of dozens of bestsellers and hundreds of evergreen sellers over 25+ years.

When you join the Story Grid Love Story Training, you’ll get immediate access to over 15 hours of training from Shawn Coyne. He will walk you, start-to-finish, through the Story Grid methodology and teach you how to apply it to your work-in-progress or use it to inspire a new project.

Why is the Story Grid different?

This isn’t some new system on how to structure your book in a magical new way. The Story Grid converts the scholarship of storytelling theory into practical application. You don’t have to read E.M. Forster or John Gardner or Edith Wharton’s theories about fiction or George Polti’s 36 Dramatic Situations. Coyne did. And he’s integrated their seminal ideas into the Story Grid for you.

There are hundreds of books, blog posts, and programs out there promising to make you a better writer. A lot of them free!

So what makes Story Grid worth the investment?

There are three fundamental things that set Story Grid apart from the rest:

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1. It’s been built and tested over 25 years.

As an acquisitions editor at Dell Publishing where he directed two publishing imprints, St. Martin’s Press where he launched a crime fiction line, Doubleday Publishing where he directed two publishing programs, Rugged Land Books which he co-founded independently and published seven New York Times bestsellers in four years, and Black Irish Books which he co-founded independently and which has published a top five New York Times bestseller and 18 other backlist perennial sellers, Shawn has used Story Grid to help authors craft their books into bestsellers. He has worked with dozens of bestselling authors, edited hundreds of books, and consistently helps authors get their best work done.

The Story Grid Love Story Training is the first time he has ever taught his entire methodology in one place. If you want to hire Shawn to be your editor, his baseline fee is $50,000. But if you want to listen and learn how he approaches story craft, and how he literally edits step-by-step himself, then the Story Grid Love Story Training is for you.

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2. It helps you find the problems in your writing.

The only thing worse than knowing your writing isn’t working is not knowing why. And when you ask for help, the advice you get only confirms your worst fears without offering any methods to relieve your anxiety.

The Story Grid Love Story Training will help you diagnose exactly what is wrong in your writing and then offers a detailed prescription to fix it.

You are not alone in not knowing how to fix your story. Coyne’s primary editing clients (those eager to pay $50,000 to solve million dollar problems) are New York’s biggest publishers and agents.

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3. It will help you become a better writer.

Once you know what isn’t working and why, you’ll stop self-sabotaging behavior.

Too many of us churn through hundreds of thousands of words that we end up throwing away because we keep making the same mistakes.

The Story Grid Love Story Training will give you a critical mass of “A-Ha!” moments to change the way you approach your craft.

And the added bonus of using the Story Grid method to vet your next story idea before you waste words discovering that it just will never work? Priceless.

A peek inside the Story Grid Love Story Training


Inside of the Story Grid Love Story Training, you will find 15+ hours of high-definition video taught by Shawn Coyne, along with the exact spreadsheets, PDFs, and other tools he uses to apply the Story Grid methodology.

Shawn walks you from the beginning of storytelling all the way through exact step-by-step methods for using Story Grid to find and fix problems in your stories.

Deep Dive into Pride And Prejudice

Throughout the training, Shawn uses the classic love story Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen to teach the fundamentals of storytelling.

Inside the Story Grid Training, you will access:

Story Grid Methodology taught by Shawn Coyne

  • The Big Picture: Where stories came from... what stories are for... and why understanding how they work is an indispensable tool to compel people to action.
  • Story Spine: Why characters with concrete macro and micro objects of desire grab readers and won't let them go.
  • Human Need: Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs explained with a twist... introducing The Story Grid Gas Gauge of Needs.
  • Understanding Genre: Knowing the rules of genre and where they came from is the best way to manipulate and deliver them with innovation.
  • The 5 Commandments of Storytelling: What every story needs to grab and hold an audience.
  • Units of Story: The Russian Doll theory of global story structure.
  • Foolscap Global Story Grid: "God made a legal sized piece of yellow foolscap paper just long enough to outline an entire project." -- Norm Stahl, mentor and friend of Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art.
  • The Story Grid Spreadsheet: The micro of story in all its anal retentive glory.
  • How to Build Your Own Story Grid: How to plan the micro and macro emotional experience of your reader scene by scene.

Exclusive Story Grid Tools and Resources

  • The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know - The book that started it all, which includes in-depth microscopic analysis of Thomas Harris’ classic thriller The Silence of the Lambs
  • Pride and Prejudice: Story Grid Edition - Shawn walks scene-by-scene through the entire novel analyzing the story elements and breaking down the five commandments of storytelling.
  • Story Grid Spreadsheet - Pride and Prejudice - Shawn’s analytical breakdown of every scene in the novel using the Story Grid methodology
  • Foolscap Global Story Grid - Pride and Prejudice - The entire book on one sheet of paper, detailing the five commandments of storytelling for the Beginning, Middle, and End
  • Story Grid Graph - Pride and Prejudice - See the graphical rise and fall of the different story value lines as the novel hooks, builds and pays off its perfectly constructed courtship drama.
  • Cheat Sheet: The Love Story Genre - The definition of Love Story along with the sub-genres, conventions, and obligatory scenes
  • Story Grid Spreadsheet - Blank - Build your own Story Grid Spreadsheet for your work-in-progress to analyze and find what is not working in your story.
  • Foolscap Global Story Grid - Blank - Build your own one-page roadmap for your story.
  • Hours of Q&A - Listen along as Shawn answers common questions from writers just like you.

Special Bonus: 2+ hour Q&A with Shawn Coyne and bestselling authors Seth Godin (What to Do When It’s Your Turn, Linchpin, Tribes, Purple Cow) and Steven Pressfield (The War of Art, Gates of Fire, The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Knowledge, The Lion’s Gate, Do the Work, Turning Pro, etc.) Godin and Pressfield address marketing and motivation for the artist while Coyne integrates the necessity of honing craft as the third key skill of writers/entrepreneurs.

New bonus:

NaNoWriMo Roadmap

Are you taking on the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in November? Shawn has created a brand new Story Grid tool to help you map out your manuscript.


He walks you through the six big questions you have to answer in order to write a working story. This bonus is exclusive to members of the Story Grid Love Story Training.

What now?

If you’ve made it this far, then you’re probably interested in jumping into the Story Grid Love Story Training.

And I think you should.

Learning the Story Grid will save you years of frustration churning out words that you eventually never use. It will teach you how to take your work-in-progress and make it ready for publishing.

And forget what I have to say — I’m just one guy. I asked other Story Grid Love Story Training students to share just one thing Story Grid has helped them with. Here’s what they said:

"The Story Grid taught me how to craft scenes that work using tools like turning points and the 5 commandments of storytelling." Robin St. Croix, author of the Masquerade series

"Story Grid Love Story helps me plan a book outline that works, zoom in and zoom out on the key story elements while writing, and then make to-do lists for the editing process." Natasha Bajema, author of Bionic Bug

"The Story Grid technique helps me maintain the rhythm of the narrative by varying scene value and polarity shifts for deeper emotional impact." E.V. Svetova, author of Print In The Snow

"The Story Grid allows me to organize my writing in a way that allows me to tackle things in pieces. It also gives me a framework to build the meat of my writing onto." Jarie Bolander, author of Frustration Free Technical Management

"It was interesting to hear how the love story integrates with so many of the other genres. I was surprised to realize that both my first novel and my current WIP have love story elements that I hadn't recognized prior to Shawn's lesson." Jerri Williams, author of Pay To Play

"One thing Story Grid taught me is about obligatory scenes. Makes so much sense!" Sheila Lischwe Ph.D.

"Story Grid has given me a tool to evaluate my stories to determine what works, what doesn't, and why or why not." D.E. Lewis, author of, For Amber Waves

If you’re ready to start moving your writing forward and stop wasting your words, now is the time to join the Story Grid Love Story Training.

Here’s how:

Story Grid Love Story Training

When you join the Story Grid Love Story Training you get access to the full course including:

  • 15+ hours of instruction. All accessible in our easy-to-use, fully mobile optimized custom learning platform.
  • The Story Grid Toolbox. The exact spreadsheets and tools that Shawn uses to apply the Story Grid methodology.
  • Pride and Prejudice: Story Grid Edition. The full manuscript of this classic book, completely annotated, scene-by-scene, by Shawn Coyne.
  • The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know. The book that started it all included for every student.
  • Extensive Q&As. Listen along as Shawn answers questions from Story Grid Love Story Training students.
  • Cheat Sheet: The Love Story Genre. The definition, sub-genres, obligatory scenes, and conventions for the Love Story.
  • NaNoWriMo Road Map. A new Story Grid tool to help you plan and write your 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days.

$99/month for 8 payments

This special NaNoWriMo discount disappears in...

Get Instant Access Now


or, save $93 by paying in full - $699


Q: What if I buy it and hate it?

A: We have a 30-day money back guarantee. You get complete access to the entire course for a month. If you feel like it wasn’t worth the investment, just let us know, and we’ll immediately refund your money.

Q: I’m just starting out. Am I ready for Story Grid?

A: Yes! In fact, joining Story Grid now will do two important things for you. First, it will stop you from developing bad habits. Second, it will save you years of wasted time and words trying to figure out these principles on your own. Now is always the best time to start investing in yourself.

Q: Pride and Prejudice? But I’m not writing love stories!

A: First, Love Story is the most commercially viable genre (read: it makes the most money). Second, no matter what genre you write, you will at some point have two people falling in love in your story. Third, by learning the principles of Love Story, you will learn the principles of all stories.

Q: This is just a formula! Won’t this just make me write cliché, boring stories?

A: Story Grid is built on thousands of years of storytelling scholarship. All stories have a form/structure. Buildings have a form/structure too. Just as buildings have plumbing and electricity and ventilation so do stories, they have foundational elements that they all share. A formula is a recipe to copy. Form is a general shape of a particular class of things or beings. Knowing the form of a building does not limit the imagination to construct a unique structure, just as knowing the form of a story does not imply imitation of another’s creative effort.

Q: Isn’t this just for editors?

A: Here’s the thing… you can write a manuscript that is full of problems and then pay an editor to try to help you locate those problems and then go back and fix them. OR, you can learn the principles of storytelling yourself so you can write a great first draft that works. All future drafts will then be a process by which you make your story even better.

Story Grid Love Story Training

When you join the Story Grid Love Story Training you get access to the full course including:

  • 15+ hours of instruction. All accessible in our easy-to-use, fully mobile optimized custom learning platform.
  • The Story Grid Toolbox. The exact spreadsheets and tools that Shawn uses to apply the Story Grid methodology.
  • Pride and Prejudice: Story Grid Edition. The full manuscript of this classic book, completely annotated, scene-by-scene, by Shawn Coyne.
  • The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know. The book that started it all included for every student.
  • Extensive Q&As. Listen along as Shawn answers questions from Story Grid Love Story Training students.
  • Cheat Sheet: The Love Story Genre. The definition, sub-genres, obligatory scenes, and conventions for the Love Story.
  • NaNoWriMo Road Map. A new Story Grid tool to help you plan and write your 50,000 word manuscript in 30 days.

$99/month for 8 payments

This special NaNoWriMo discount disappears in...

Get Instant Access Now


or, save $93 by paying in full - $699