Figure out if your story works, and what to do if it doesn’t


If you have a complete draft but don’t know if it’s “good enough” ...

If you’ve got a pile of words and don’t know what to do next ...

If you want to make your story something you’re proud of ...

a Story Grid Diagnostic can help.

Leslie helped me see growth opportunities, but also my strengths. Because of her help, my novel has developed into something truly amazing that I just wouldn’t have accomplished on my own.
— Alysia Seymour, author of The Raven Dreams
Alysia Seymour testimonial for Leslie Watts.

When most readers and editors don't fall in love with a story, they can't tell you exactly what's not working.

Why is that?


They evaluate stories with some combination of intuition and preference. The problem with this is that their feedback tends to be vague: as the writer, you won’t necessarily know the next right step to take your story from where it is to a story you can be proud of and that meets the reader's expectations. 

Over the course of his career, Shawn Coyne, an editor with more than 25 years of experience, has built an editing tool he calls the Story Grid. It tackles the problem of vague feedback that’s impossible to follow. His method helps editors explain specific problems and gives authors concrete steps to follow to fix them.

He shares the Story Grid with writers everywhere through his blog, book, the podcast he hosts with Tim Grahl, and courses. Though you can gain the entire Story Grid methodology for free on Shawn's blog, it helps to have professional support to see what you cannot because you are so close to your work. 

Shawn can't work with all the authors who come to him wanting help with their stories, so he's selected and trained editors who've demonstrated a deep interest in and aptitude for story and the process.

I'm one of those editors.

I've studied the Story Grid methodology since it was first presented on Shawn's blog. I've taken the Story Grid Love Story course and recently completed the official certification course.

Here's the bottom line: Writing is not a mystical gift that you're born with—or not. Though some writers have a natural storytelling ability, they, too, must practice the craft if they want to grow.

If your draft isn't where you want it to be, I can show you how to practice the craft, become a better writer, and create a story you’re proud of, through a Story Grid Diagnostic.



A Story Grid Diagnostic includes:


  • The 6 Core Questions Analysis
    I'll read your manuscript and apply the Story Grid 6 Core Questions Analysis to your work. This is a deep dive into your manuscript, analyzing what works and what doesn’t work.


  • A One-Hour Phone Consultation
    We’ll discuss your questions and my analysis of your story. You’ll leave the call with a clearer global, big-picture view of your manuscript and its genre.


  • A Story Grid Spreadsheet of Your First Five Scenes
    I’ll create a full Story Grid work-up of the first five scenes of your manuscript. This will give you a black-and-white, close-up view of which scenes are working and which aren’t—and why.


  • A Next Steps Recommendation Letter
    Every writer is at a different place in his or her journey. I’ll provide personalized suggested next steps you can take to level-up as a writer. This will include specific Story Grid homework to help improve your skills and your manuscript.


  • Masterworks of the Genre Recommendations and Additional Resources
    Throughout the Story Grid Diagnostic process, I’ll help you identify and refine your genre choice. Once that’s done, I’ll provide a list of Masterworks to study along with the Story Grid Genre Cheat Sheet for your genre, so you can learn from the best examples of stories similar to yours.



$1,797 (for up to 80,000 words)

$2,249 (for 80,000 to 100,000 words)

$2,699 (for 100,000 to 120,000 words)

If your story is more than 120,000 words, let me know, and we can talk about options.


My promise to you

I promise that at the end of this process, you’ll have a clear understanding of the level of your current manuscript and the best steps you can take to move forward and make your story work.

A Story Grid Diagnostic is a deep dive into your work and takes time, so I work with a limited number of authors a month.

Schedule a free 30-minute call to talk about fitting you in.



Don’t stay stuck with another draft

that never turns into the book you want it to be.

Noah Dueker testimonial for Leslie Watts.
I’m so grateful for all the advice Leslie provided. This is my first foray into writing a novel and hearing professional editing advice at this early stage is truly priceless.
— Noah Dueker, author of Forgotten December

Let's talk about your Story Grid Diagnostic.