A Little Less Verbiage Please

For fun, here’s my post from Tuesday September 15, 2015, “Narrative Altitude,” in graph form.  Wish I could say this was easier to create than the words…

My thanks to Dick Yaeger for the inspiration.


9 comments on “A Little Less Verbiage Please

  1. Morning, Shawn. I’m sitting here blown away yet again. I was practically speechless when I saw this new post. All I could say was, “Holy cow! Holy cow!” I kept saying it out loud to myself.

    I feel deep reverence for what you have created (and for you, of course.)

    I’m sure you know but I’m going to say it anyway.

    What an amazing post!

  2. Mary Doyle says:

    I’m with Debbie – just blown away! Wow, wow, wow – as always, thanks!

  3. David Ward says:

    what an incredible inspiration you are. holy jumpin’.

  4. jim calocci says:

    fun and learning grow where Shawn Coyne goes ,


  5. peter jakobsen says:

    Mr. Shawn Coyne
    Dear Sir!

    As I told you some time ago you have undertaken a very difficult task. Same did Christoffer Colombus whom the spanisk call Cristóbal Colón.
    But he found America. For the indians it has alwayes been there. There are thousinds of books how to write blockbuster novel. It is not just painting by numbers.
    The graph on top of the page is a good inspiration, and avoids you from being to wordy.
    Personally I am quite happy with The writers Journey, by Christopher Vogler.
    I think one have to plan before starting to write. I use blank flash cards I arrange on the table.
    I hope your book is stone of the philosophers (Latin: lapis philosophorum) and look forward to read it.
    Best regards
    Peter Jakobsen

  6. amy says:

    Hello Shawn,

    Do you find that the “street, city, national, universal” levels apply to most good, dimensional, fiction stories as well? Many thanks!

    1. Shawn Coyne says:

      Hi Amy,
      I think street level is usually best for fiction. The minute we start flying above the clouds, we begin to lose the attention of the reader. Nonfiction is different of course in that the expectation of the audience when reading nonfiction is completely different than a total immersion in a fictional universe. My advice is to just write from the altitude that comes naturally to you and analyze it later. You may decide to pull focus every now and then and give a wider angle as a third person omniscient narrator. Obviously there’s no easy answer to the question.
      Sorry if I’ve confused you further.
      All the best

      1. amy says:

        I understand. Actually, I probably confused you more. I suppose I meant … when I’m trying to structure fiction stories, I always seem to begin with a strong character personality who’s dealing with an internal emotional component (street); then the character evolves when balanced against other characters (city). The resulting group forms a community, so-to-speak (national), with the ultimate “story” appealing to the universal (essentially, the reader). I am probably analyzing this in a too-funky way or trying to correlate things that shouldn’t be correlated. Apologies. 🙂

  7. Dave LaRoche says:

    Note the article in The New Yorker, Sep 14, by John McPhee – staff writer and mulit-book author – who also subscribes to the less-is-more notion. He addresses this under the guise of “omission,” and while his piece ignores that rule substantially, it is an interesting and informative read.

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