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  • Writer's pictureNicole Wilbur

I Used the Story Grid to Edit My Pirate Romance

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

In 2019, two things changed my writing life forever (if you re-read that in a really deep movie trailer voice, it has the effect I'm going for).

  1. I started posting on Scribophile to get beta reader feedback

  2. I used the Story Grid to edit one of my scenes

I edited the opening to a story I'd written five years earlier about a girl pirate who is tasked with caring for (or, rather, jailing) her ship's hostage. I had a fun cast of characters, a cute (if not exceedingly fresh) premise, and a very big mess.


When I read the Story Grid article Writing Scenes that Work I had some major epiphanies:

  1. I needed my opening scene to TURN. Scenes are about change. Characters need to be at a different place at the end than they were at the beginning.

  2. Scenes need to rise and fall with inciting incidents, turning points, crises, climaxes, and resolutions.

  3. The scene needs to be going somewhere, and building to something. I have to give the reader something to wonder about that makes them want to move forward.

  4. I have to be careful not to give away too much too soon.

SO I edited the opening and realized it got a heck of a lot better (or at least, I liked it better). Though I'd been slowly improving my writing overtime, this marks a significant uptake in my writing journey. Below, I am sharing the before and after versions of my scene with annotations in the hopes that it might be interesting, informative, or entertaining for you!

Case Study Before and After of my Scene
Download • 299KB

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2 Comments


Donald Claxton
Donald Claxton
Mar 09, 2021

Much improved, Nicole. Are you purposely suggesting a period as a timeless one, but one where wooden boats roamed the seas, and pirates of each gender are bound to strike most anywhere. This also suggests it's happening in England or somewhere they speak English since you didn't/haven't specified. Doo you feel you're giving too much time in the setup before action begins? How does meeting the man on the dock v. the two pirate women into action? Just a few thoughts. Hope you're having a good Tuesday! -Donny

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Nicole Wilbur
Nicole Wilbur
Jun 11, 2021
Replying to

Hi Donny! Thanks for this comment - yes, it is meant to be timeless, given the gender mix. If I go back to this story, I might even decide to set it in a fantasy world. These are great questions - have definitely given me a lot to think about and I'm so sorry to just be seeing this now!

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