I help writers tell better stories.

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I'm Shelley Sperry, and I run a one-woman writing, editing, and research shop called Sperry Editorial. I'm a Story Grid Certified Editor, specializing in narrative nonfiction and historical fiction—but I like helping writers tell stories in any genre. I provide developmental editing services to beginning and mid-career writers using the Story Grid method created by Shawn Coyne. Download my short guide to different types of editing here.

I also work with nonprofit and business clients as a writer, editor, and researcher. Some recent projects include educational posters about the geological wonders of Yellowstone National Parkblog posts about alternative schools; and white papers about employing military veterans, strengthening voting rights, and expanding workers' rights on the job.

Pounding out a first draft is like hoeing a row of corn – you just keep your head down and concentrate on getting to the end. Revision is where fine art begins.

—Barbara Kingsolver


I offer a range of services to help clients tell better stories, including:

  • developmental editing based on Story Grid principles
  • researching, writing, and editing white papers, press releases, and web content
  • reporting and writing on current events related to education, labor, voting rights, and the environment
  • line editing of completed manuscripts

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What's Story Grid?

The Story Grid is a practical storytellers' toolkit developed by Shawn Coyne, an editor with more than 25 years experience helping writers craft stories that really work. Using Story Grid tools, I'll help you take a look at your book—or initial ideas for a book— to identify the type of story you're telling and to make sure the beginning, middle, and end will satisfy you and your readers. Then we'll dig deeper to analyze individual scenes using the same tools.

To learn more about the Story Grid approach, take a look at some of the most popular articles from Shawn's blog, or listen to the Story Grid podcast.

Writing about Reading

I blog about historical fiction, narrative nonfiction, and how great stories work.


Coming soon!


About Me

I'm Shelley Sperry, an editor, writer, and researcher based in Alexandria, Virginia.

For many years, I felt that my writing was dependent on confidence. I remember waiting to feel ready. I remember holding out for my insecurities to ease. Thank God I started writing anyway, with all my self-doubt and apprehension, otherwise I’d still be waiting.

—Hannah Kent


For release in 2018, I'm working on a Story Grid Edition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, which will be edited by Shawn Coyne. Like Cliff's Notes on steroids, the Story Grid Edition will help writers understand how Atwood constructed this dystopian classic scene-by-scene. I'm also co-writing a parents' guide to alternative education with my sister, the founder of Alt Ed Austin