Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Notes on Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds

This post contains my notes on the book Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The guaranteed way to get your screenplay or novel read by Michael Hauge.


Even though I am not a screenwriter or novelist, I have collected and read several books on the craft of story. The principles of story are applicable in any type of narrative writing, whether it is a business presentation, personal letter, or non-fiction account of events.

Selling your story in 60 seconds

According to Amazon, I purchased Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds in 2011. In a recent review of my planners I came across my notes from my reading of this book. The concept of providing a short pitch of your story is similar to giving an elevator speech.

From the back cover:

  • How to design, perfect, and present the 60-second pitch
  • The 10 key components of a commercial story
  • The 8 steps to a powerful pitch
  • Targeting your buyers
  • Advice from 40 major screenwriters, novelists, agents, and executives
  • Pitching templates for every genre

10 Components of a commercial story

  1. Hero*
  2. Empathy with the hero by creating sympathy, putting the hero in jeopardy, making the hero likable, making the hero funny, and/or making the hero powerful
  3. Setup of the story
  4. Opportunity presented to the hero
  5. Outer motivation* (desire) consists of one of four visible goals: win a competition or love of another, stop a negative event from occurring, escape from a place or person or situation, or retrieve thing of value
  6. Conflict*
  7. Hero's arc (character development throughout the story)
  8. Deeper issues that tap into universal human themes or issues
  9. Antecedents (previous or similar stories)
  10. Your passion for the story*

Components with a * are most essential for making a pitch.

60-Second pitch

The best way to introduce your story to someone is to start with "I think the best way to tell you about my story is to tell your how I came up with the idea" or "I've always been interested in ...." Then provide some personal detail relevant to your story.

Next, transition to, "What if ...?" Based on how you arrived at the idea for your story, walk listeners through the scenario you considered, "What if a young man whose relatives were just killed set out on an adventure in the universe?"

Finally, provide a detail about the hero, his or her desire, the essence of the conflict in the story, and one unique element.

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