Writing so good
readers can't help but
keep turning pages.

This is what you want.

And soon, you'll be able to do it.

Next Cohort Begins July 2, 2023


Do these show up for you?

1. Your scenes have no direction.

The writing starts, you feel good about the scene, and then you realize—it's hard to tell exactly when this happens—everything has gone off track.

You keep going, hoping you'll be able to write yourself out of the hole, but eventually the writing peters out and you stop.

On a reread, there is a lot going on. Characters are doing stuff. Plenty of exposition. Lots of description. But it doesn't go anywhere and even you get lost... and you wrote it!

If a reader can't figure out what's going on in your story, they will stop reading.

2. Your scenes are boring.

It’s hard to get all the details and story bits into your writing without making it boring. You know there needs to be some kind of action happening, but how do you do this without car chases and explosions? What if it’s two people getting coffee or a person traveling alone?

You force yourself to finish the scene, but even you get bored when you read back through it.

And if it’s boring to you, imagine how the reader is going to feel!

3. Your scenes don't evoke emotion.

Your writing comes out flat and dull like a Wikipedia entry describing something interesting instead of pulling you into the narrative.

As you struggle to put the words down, you’re not sure which verbs, adjectives and adverbs to put down in order to connect your writing to your reader at an emotional level.

You know each word you choose is important, but how do you make those choices?

4. Too many details in your scenes.

You get lost in the excitement of creating your world and characters, so you keep putting more and more. Before long, you have thousands of words of exposition but nothing has happened yet.

Somewhere in that mess you try to get your story elements in, but you worry that you’ve buried them in an avalanche of description. When you go back to edit though, you know you need to cut, but you’re not sure what to cut or why.

5. Too many characters in your scenes.

As you develop your story, you keep adding characters without a clear direction on their purpose and how they will add value to the narrative.

On a reread, you start to fear that all of your characters are running together and remain uninteresting and unbelievable.

6. Your world is not believable.

You struggle to choose the right details to describe your story’s world to make it feel real and vibrant. So you keep adding more and more, unsure of when you’ve put enough.

The world feels so real to you, but you’re never quite sure if it’s landing on the page in the right way.

7. Your scenes are full of exposition dumps.

As you write, you struggle with weaving the exposition, dialogue, and action together.

You worry you’re not giving your readers enough information, so you opt to open a scene or stop mid-action and dump all of the information on the reader at once.

But then you worry that you’re back to making your writing boring again.

8. Your scenes do not have a clear voice.

You don’t feel locked into who you’re telling the story to and why, so the voice shifts as you write. Sometimes you use flowery prose and then switch into Hemingwayesque direct, simple language.

You feel the inconsistency in the word choice, but struggle to lock in on anything that feels coherent throughout the writing.

9. Your "camera" movement is confusing.

As you write, you bounce from a god-like view of the context to an up-close description of action to dialogue to a different character's vantage point. It feels right in the moment, but when you read through later, you feel like you’re getting jerked around, unsure of where to focus.

If the movement is too jarring, your story will get lost in the chaos.

Bonus: Your scene is a BLANK PAGE.

You would love to have these problems in your writing, as that would mean you were actually writing.

Instead, when you try to write, you end up staring at the endless blinking of the cursor unsure of where to start and what to write.

If you never write anything then you never have to deal with a reader who doesn't like your writing.

What happens if you can’t write exciting, compelling scenes?

Maybe you love the macro storytelling stuff. Diving deep into the genre and story structure and conventions and obligatory moments… so much fun!

And, obviously, this stuff is important. It’s a huge part of what we do here at Story Grid.


If you can’t write scenes that excite the reader to turn the page and keep reading, none of it matters!

This means...

  • Readers won’t stick with your story long enough to experience your story’s climax or speech in praise of the villain.
  • Readers won't make it through 3 scenes before they give up on your entire book.
  • You’ll never write a book that people love so much they’ll tell other people about it.
  • Readers will never get to hear your voice and your message. They'll miss out on the joy of experiencing your story.

Masterwork Scene Writing Course

Learn to write scenes that are so good
readers can't help but keep turning pages.

New cohort begins July 2, 2023.



A pattern scene sourced from a master writer.


To differentiate the signal from the noise.

Creating iterations of your scene and writing as you improve your craft.

Study a Master Writer

By focusing on one masterwork scene, it allows us to pick up on the patterns and learn from a story that has stood the test of time.

Weeks 1 - 5:

Scene Analysis and Planning

Discover the Story Grid 624 Analysis Toolkit that allows you to gain high resolution understanding for the story.

During this process you will learn to use tools including:

  • The 5-leaf Genre Clover to get crystal clear on how to meet reader expectations.
  • The Proposition of Possibility (POP) generates and governs the problem space for a story.
  • The Narrative Device which sets out the Author, Single Audience Member, and Problem for the story.
  • Point of View options for presenting the story to the reader.
  • The Five Commandments that track the value shift in a story.
  • The Event Synthesis Analysis which evaluates the trinity planes of perception in the story.
  • Identifying Tropes and Beats in the story.

Weeks 6 - 10:

Writing Engaging Action

Build your toolkit for writing action by adding energy to your writing that generates excitement and anxiety in the reader.

During this process you will learn:

  • The different types of Action Beats and when to use them in your writing.
  • How valence in your language plays a huge role in generating engaging action.
  • The critical role misattunement in your line-by-line writing plays in keeping the reader turning pages.
  • Internal and External sources of energy that drive action in the story.

Weeks 11 - 13:

Character Development

Understand how to develop characters that readers will empathize with and connect to.

During this training you will learn:

  • How to effectively reveal your character's true nature through action instead of exposition.
  • The 3 categories of Breakdown Beats that force the characters to change in your story.
  • How misattuning the Beat writing reveals the truth about the characters.
  • How writing Freeze, Flight, and Fight play into character development.
  • The 7 ways a character can react to misattunement in their environment.

Weeks 14 - 16:

Writing Captivating Exposition

Exposition is necessary in your writing, but hard to do well without boring the reader.

During this training you will learn:

  • Frameworks for building exposition in a way that engages your readers in a coherent experience.
  • Techniques to avoid info-dumps while making sure you include enough description to keep your reader from getting confused.
  • The 3 functions of exposition and how to balance them in your writing.
  • How to connect the exposition in your scenes to the global concepts at play in your story to make sure that the entire story works together as a whole.

What Our Students Have To Say

"The Guild has completely transformed my writing."

"By exploring story in a more complete way, I’m now able to construct a more cohesive narrative; and then pairing this understanding with beat to beat level instruction, I’m able to get the right words on the page. The Guild is a commitment, but one that is well worth it."

— Amy Kelm

"I spent years in the wilderness of craft books, university writing classes and local writer workshops."

"I was trying to find someone who could not only tell HOW to do this mysterious task of writing a novel but also tell me where mine was going wrong! I had some amazing teachers and I knew I had good instincts and I had tons of writing "practice" but I did not have a map... I was always wandering around. Story Grid is the map... actually it's the star chart, the globe and the atlas. Add to that a community of writers and instructors who all speak the same language... you will not get lost again."

— Krista Adams, Writer and Story Grid Certified Editor

"There is so much more value than I was expecting."

"When I first signed up, I was worried I was making a mistake. It was a lot of money to me. But now that I realize how much is involved and how much I'm getting out of it, I feel like it was actually an amazing deal. It's such an intensive course and the trainers are putting so much work into it, and I'm so glad that I get to be part of it."

— Annette Roth

"This material isn't talked about anywhere else."

"The Story Grid Guild is the only place to get it. I've been challenged and frustrated, but all in a good way. I love the forums. It is wonderful to be in a community where people care so much about learning and understanding the material.

I know two people joining the new semester. I did not try to encourage them to join. Instead, I kept going on about the incredible concepts I was learning, the new perspectives for analyzing works, etc. It just got them interested and wanting to have it for themselves."

— Pam G

"I have learned so much from the Guild that has improved my writing."

"This teaching is objective, not subjective. I am able to understand logically where there is a problem and then how to fix it.

If you're tired of getting feedback based on 'feelings,' if you're ready to understand the bones of story and learn to use them to build your own unique stories, stories that work, then the Story Grid Guild is the right place to learn."

— Cathy Ryan

"I always tell anyone and everyone to join the Guild!"

"It is the most useful writer's resource because it has specific and actionable development tools to diagnose a scene to make it work. The information I've learned in the Story Grid Guild cannot be found anywhere else. Story Grid has been the most helpful resource out of everything I've read to improve my writing.

The community of writers is an extra resource of limitless knowledge and experience of the same writing mindset. The Guild members have an understanding of the same Story Grid methodology, and they're excellent at helping to explain concepts. It's invaluable, and I benefit from it in ways that I'd never get on my own."

— Kristi Stalder, author of Navigating Assisted Living

Meet Your Instructors

These are the people guiding you through the training. Shawn Coyne is providing the basis for all of the theory and content and answering your questions monthly. Danielle Kiowski and Leslie Watts are providing the weekly instruction and assignments.

Shawn Coyne
Founder and Creator of Story Grid

Shawn Coyne is a writer, editor, and publishing professional with over 30 years of experience. He has published more than 300 books with many dozens of bestsellers across all genres and generated over $150,000,000 of revenue.

He started his editing career in 1991 as an editorial assistant and was promoted to senior editor in less than five years. Four years later, he became a publisher. Throughout his twenty year career in traditional publishing, he held positions at Dell Publishing, St. Martin's Press, and Doubleday Publishing.

From 2001 through 2007, Coyne founded and served as Publisher and Managing Partner for Rugged Land Books. In its six years of operation, Rugged Land published thirty-six hardcover titles and fourteen trade paperback titles. One third of all original titles published at Rugged Land were placed on the major bestseller lists.

After shuttering Rugged Land in 2007, Coyne became a literary agent representing many bestselling authors including Robert McKee, Steven Pressfield, David Feherty, Scott Patterson, Anita Raghaven, and many others.

In 2011, Coyne co-founded Black Irish Books where he has published over twenty-five titles including bestsellers such as The War of Art and Turning Pro.

In 2015, he wrote and published The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know and, later that year, launched the Story Grid Podcast. Since then, Story Grid has grown into a community of 40,000+ writers dedicated to leveling up their craft.

Shawn continues to study and write on Narrative Theory, develop the Story Grid methodology, and teach aspiring and professional writers.

A small sampling of works he acquired, edited, published and/or represented include 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 among many others.

Danielle Kiowski
Chief Academic Officer, Story Grid Universe

Danielle works with writers to help them tell the stories that they need to tell.

In 2019, she came to Story Grid to level up her own craft, and discovered a passion for teaching others and helping them to tell their stories. She strives to guide her students and clients to unlock a new understanding of how stories work and how they can apply that insight to their own writing and in their own lives. Writing is hard work. She coaches her writers through the transformative work that they must face to tell a story that matters while maintaining focus on the joy of creating art and protecting the passion for storytelling that drives them to the page.

As the Chief Academic Officer at Story Grid, Danielle crafts the Guild experience to help members reach their writing goals. Along the way, she teaches plenty of theory, but always brings it back to the page — where the writing happens!

Leslie Watts
Editor-in-Chief, Story Grid Publishing

Editor-in-Chief Leslie Watts oversees acquisition and editing of Story Grid Publishing’s fiction and nonfiction titles. A member of the first class of Story Grid certified editors, Leslie is also a podcaster, instructor, mentor, and proud story nerd. She has written craft-focused books, including Point of View, Conventions and Obligatory Moments (with Kimberly Kessler), What’s the Big Idea? (with Shelley Sperry), and Story Grid masterwork analysis guides to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (with Shelley Sperry).

Leslie has been writing and editing for as long as she can remember—from her sixth-grade magazine about cats to drafting opinions for an appellate court judge. After a detour as a lawyer, she returned to her true calling as an author and editor. She believes in sharing specific, supportive guidance with writers to help them become better storytellers. Leslie lives on the coast of Maine with her husband and two children.

Masterwork Scene Writing Course



When you join the self-study option of the Story Grid Guild, you get access to all of the weekly training and worksheets.

Additionally, each month you have access to new live training and Q&As with Story Grid creator and founder Shawn Coyne along with a live Q&A with the program instructors, Danielle Kiowski and Leslie Watts.

Other benefits include group discussion with fellow members and access to the Story Grid Database.

Do you think a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing is the best way to develop your line-by-line writing?

The average cost of an MFA program is $13,800 a year at public universities and $36,300 at private universities.

Additionally, it won’t provide anywhere near the rigor and level of useful writing training found in the Story Grid Guild's Masterclass in Scene Writing.

Watch the videos below to hear from Guild students who also have their MFA in Creative Writing.

Join Now

Registration is currently open for the Masterwork Scene Writing Class

A New Cohort Begins July 2, 2023


Join the only writing program based on a complete narrative theory developed over thirty years by editor and author Shawn Coyne.

The 16-week training begins September 3rd.

  • Weekly Instruction
    Every Sunday you will receive access to new writing instruction covering the week’s topic. This will include examples, how-tos, and next steps for your personal writing practice.
  • Weekly Worksheet
    Every Sunday with the release of the instruction, you will get access to the week's writing worksheet. This will take less than an hour a week, but will include highly potent and practical exercises to help you level up your writing.
  • Monthly Instructor Q&A
    Each month, join the semester's instructor for a live Q&A to ask your questions on the month's topic, instruction, and practice.
  • Monthly Q&A with Shawn Coyne
    Each month you will have access to a live Q&A where Shawn Coyne will answer your questions. You can submit questions ahead of time if you’re unable to attend.
  • Group Practice and Discussion
    You will be added to an exclusive Slack channel with your fellow cohort members to discuss weekly work and practice together.

or $265/month


Additional Resources For All Students



Access in-depth training on the foundational Story Grid tools and methodology including the Spreadsheet, Five Commandments of Storytelling and the Foolscap



As a Story Grid Guild member you will receive 20% off all products, events, seminars, and books we offer (excluding Story Grid Editor Certification training).

What Our Current Students Are Saying

"This will become the required basics for every writer in the future."

"The concepts of Story Grid are brilliantly insightful to the writing process. If you want to understand the structure of story and how to write well, you need to study Story Grid."

— Bill Babb

"If you really want to learn how to write — really — then this is the way to go"

"This is what I've been waiting for forever. Nobody out there is doing this and this is the only way to really become good at writing.

We have to know what we're doing. Nobody becomes a doctor by winging it. Why is it assumed that writing is any different?

Shawn is a visionary."

— Shelley Malka, Ph.D

"I would recommend this to all real writers out there that want to be proud of their work."

"Stop wasting your time typing out fancy words and stop trying to copy other writers styles. Instead, learn how to tell a story on three different levels and beyond. You won't regret leveling up yourself."

— S.E. Mckee

"One-of-a-kind deep-dive learning you can't get ANYWHERE else."

"Members of the Guild are challenged to improve our writing skills together. We share questions and reach understanding while sharing resources generously."

— Johne Cook, author of The Blue Golem

"Story Grid is the best way to analyse stories in a practical, useful way whilst still keeping the process creative."

"Think about some vague piece of writing feedback you've had in the past, such as being told that something ‘doesn’t flow right’ or a character seems ‘off’. Story Grid will show you how to analyse all aspects of Story to help you understand why something is working, or why not. "

— Linda

"The Guild offers extensive resources on story craft."

"If you're thinking you'd like to write a story, have a draft or two, or have been writing a story for a long time but don't know how to finish it, Story Grid can provide the tools you need, like a trusty roadmap, to know where to begin, how to plow through the middle, and how to reach the end without wasting time and energy and, most importantly, WORDS."

— Estee Cortez


Do I get access to the full training?

✅ YES! As soon as you register, you will be given access to the dashboard for the training that begins on July 2, 2023. You will be able to access the Story Grid Foundations series of courses and other resources to get you started.

On July 2nd you will receive the first weekly training and worksheet to kick off the semester of training. At the end of the 17-week semester, you will have access to all of the training and resources in your archive.

Do I have enough time to take this class?

✅ YES! We have designed the training and practice so you can go through it at your own pace.

The weekly training and assignment takes roughly two to three hours to complete. If you interact in the Slack chat channel and meet with a group, this still keeps the amount of time manageable while still making huge progress in your writing.

Are the people leading the training experts I can trust?

✅ YES! All of the training in the Masterwork Scene Writing Course is based on the research and practice of Shawn Coyne, and editor, writer, and publisher with over thirty years of experience. Throughout his career he has successfully developed and edited dozens of bestselling titles across genres.

The weekly training will be delivered by Story Grid Chief Academic Officer Danielle Kiowski and Story Grid Publishing Editor-in-Chief Leslie Watts based on the work of Shawn Coyne. Shawn will also host a monthly training and Q&A through the 16-week course.

Will I be able to collaborate with other students?

✅ YES! You will have access to a Slack channel to coordinate and collaborate with the other students in your cohort. This will allow you to set up weekly live checkins along with discuss the training and assignments with your fellow writers.

What happens if I miss the live sessions? Can I still access them?

✅ YES! All calls will be recorded and posted to the training dashboard. They'll be available for the duration of your membership so you can listen to them at your convenience. You'll also have an opportunity to send questions in advance so you won't be left out of the Q&As if you can't make it live.

Do we get to practice what we learn in the program?

✅ YES! Each week there will be an assignment based on that week's training that will allow you to put into practice what you learned. Along with that, you can work with other students in your cohort to review and refine your work.

I write nonfiction. Is this still a good fit for me?

✅ YES! The Masterwork Scene Writing Course is focused on leveling up your line-by-line writing as well as your overall understanding of narrative theory. This will improve your skills across all writing whether it's fiction, nonfiction, marketing or even your daily emails.

The methodology in the training has been applied across all genres and, even though we use a scene from a masterwork of fiction as the study tool for the semester, you will be surprised how much it applies across everything you write.

Can I get feedback on my work?

✅ YES! We have two ways for you to get feedback on your work throughout the training.

First, you can join the 1-on-1 Editor Mentorship program to work directly with a Story Grid Certified Editor to get coaching, weekly feedback, and group workshopping throughout the semester.

Second, you can join with the other students in your cohort to work together through the training and worksheets.

Can I join the training now?

✅ YES! You can join the training right now and access the private Slack channel along with additional resources. Then, on April 30th, we will send you the first training and worksheet so you can get started.

I still have more questions. Can I get them answered?

✅ YES! Simply email us at [email protected] and our CEO will respond ASAP.

Join Now

Registration is currently open for the Masterwork Scene Writing Class

A New Cohort Begins July 2, 2023


Join the only writing program based on a complete narrative theory developed over thirty years by editor and author Shawn Coyne.

The 16-week training begins September 3rd.

  • Weekly Instruction
    Every Sunday you will receive access to new writing instruction covering the week’s topic. This will include examples, how-tos, and next steps for your personal writing practice.
  • Weekly Worksheet
    Every Sunday with the release of the instruction, you will get access to the week's writing worksheet. This will take less than an hour a week, but will include highly potent and practical exercises to help you level up your writing.
  • Monthly Instructor Q&A
    Each month, join the semester's instructor for a live Q&A to ask your questions on the month's topic, instruction, and practice.
  • Monthly Q&A with Shawn Coyne
    Each month you will have access to a live Q&A where Shawn Coyne will answer your questions. You can submit questions ahead of time if you’re unable to attend.
  • Group Practice and Discussion
    You will be added to an exclusive Slack channel with your fellow cohort members to discuss weekly work and practice together.

or $265/month