The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - A Story Grid Masterwork Analysis Guide
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The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - A Story Grid Masterwork Analysis Guide

Leslie Watts, Shelley Sperry, Shawn Coyne

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eBook - ePub

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell - A Story Grid Masterwork Analysis Guide

Leslie Watts, Shelley Sperry, Shawn Coyne

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Is it possible to write a nonfiction book that changes minds or even changes the world?

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell sold 1.7 million copies in its first year of release, and today remains a perennial bestseller.

What made it go viral?

What made it stick?

On the 20th anniversary of The Tipping Point’s publication, two Story Grid editors decided to dissect Gladwell’s masterwork to find out what made it a cultural touchstone.

Leslie Watts and Shelley Sperry analyze the macro structure of the book and each individual scene to understand how Gladwell uses scientific evidence, charming anecdotes, and compelling characters to bring complex ideas to life. The breakdown of each scene reveals the essential questions Gladwell asks and answers and....

This Story Grid Masterwork Guide is a unique tool—a deep dive into the mind of a master storyteller designed to give you the tools and confidence to set off on an intellectual adventure and write a book that will transform your readers and stay on bookstore shelves for years to come.

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Information

Scene Analysis:

Middle Build

Chapter 1 - The Three Rules of Epidemics

Scene 5

1,056 words
“In the mid-1990s, the city 
 and the Power of Context.”
Summary: In the mid-1990s, a syphilis epidemic occurred in Baltimore.

INQUIRY EVENT

1. Literal Action: What is the author-protagonist literally doing in this scene?
Gladwell tells the story of how Baltimore experienced an epidemic of syphilis in the mid-1990s.
2. Essential Action: What is the author-protagonist trying to accomplish in this scene?
Gladwell wants to show how disease epidemics tip.
3. Life Value Change: What has changed along the Ignorance to Knowledge to Wisdom spectrum in the scene?
Syphilis in Baltimore went from a disease that was under control to one that was spreading in a short period of time, changing the external life value from Containment to Epidemic. Through this example, Gladwell discovers three different and subtle ways epidemics tip.
Ignorance to Research Knowledge
4. Inquiry Event: What is the resulting Inquiry Event?
What caused Baltimore’s syphilis problem to tip?

THE FIVE COMMANDMENTS OF STORYTELLING

Inciting Incident: For years before 1995, the syphilis rate in Baltimore was stable. What made it tip?

Progressive Complications: When the syphilis epidemic occurred, the CDC said it happened because of an increase in the crack cocaine problem, STD expert John Zenilman said budget cuts affected medical services in the poor neighborhoods of the city, and leading epidemiologist John Potterat said the destruction of neighborhoods where people who carried the disease lived caused them to move to other parts of the city.

The Turning Point Progressive Complication: Three plausible reasons explain the syphilis epidemic, but none of these reasons involve drastic change, and each one is different.

Crisis Question: Does this example help us understand the way disease epidemics tip in general?

Climax: There is more than one way to tip a disease epidemic, including changes in the people who carry the disease, the disease itself, and the environment or context in which the disease operates.

Resolution: Disease epidemics tip because a change has occurred in one or more of these three areas. Gladwell calls these agents of change the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.

NOTES

  • In this scene, Gladwell introduces the three rules of Tipping Points in the context of the Baltimore syphilis epidemic in the mid-1990s. In the next three scenes, he shows how each rule operates in the context of disease epidemics (e.g., the flu, AIDS, syphilis, and gonorrhea) and then offers examples of how each rule works in social epidemics too.
  • Gladwell provides commentary on the meaning of the events he is describing. Some findings or conclusions are obvious or interesting, strange or surprising or not, and may also be complicated, shocking, or chilling. This seems to be a subtle form of persuasion (or Pathos that is derived from the Ethos Gladwell has already established). If statement X is obvious to Gladwell, we’re not likely to challenge it. Are we? And are we more likely to trust the statement that is complicated because we assume Gladwell is smarter than we are and has done the intellectual heavy lifting? Probably.

Scene 6

900 words
“When we say that a 
 were able to spread HIV.”
Summary: Disease epidemics, like gonorrhea and HIV, often tip as a result of the actions of a few exceptional people.

INQUIRY EVENT

1. Literal Action: What is the author-protagonist literally doing in this scene?
Gladwell introduces several examples of disease epidemics that tipped, specifically related to gonorrhea and HIV.
2. Essential Action: What is the author-protagonist trying to accomplish in this scene?
Gladwell wants to show how the Law of the Few operates in disease epidemics and suggest that it operates the same way in social epidemics.
3. Life Value Change: What has changed along the Ignorance to Knowledge to Wisdom spectrum in the scene?
In all the cases cited, a few infected many with deadly diseases, changing the external life value from Infection to Death. Gladwell learns that social epidemics, like the increase in the sales of Hush Puppies, operate the same way disease epidemics do: one or more exceptional people spread the word or disease to many other people.
Ignorance to Research Knowledge to Higher Knowledge
4. Inquiry Event: What is the resulting Inquiry Event?
When it comes to spreading diseases or social epidemics, why is it that “some people matter more than others”?

THE FIVE COMMANDMENTS OF STORYTELLING

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