For MikeHumphreys - Character Arc & Copy

7 replies
Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

If you want to "educate" the masses, then start another thread so you can dazzle everyone with your expertise.

Years ago I wrote a guide book for a certain discipline
and bought classified ads in the back of a few relevant magazines.
It worked.
That was my first real writing and first real ad copy. I was hooked.

In 2005, I sold my first screenplay to Warner Brothers for 6 figures.
Since then, I have sold 1 other finished script to a major studio
and 1 to a large independent for comparable amounts.

I have also sold 2 others to smaller indy studios for 4 and 5 figures
because they were works that I'd like to see actually become movies,
and I knew by that time that the other scripts were just good enough
to be viewed as threats which could compete with the other projects
in development at the studios referred to in the first paragraph,
so they were purchased for the purpose of preventing them from
becoming movies made by a competing studio.
They will be in a storage room forever.

But I also twice did something that has not happened much in Hollywood
for the past 20 years -- I sold 2 TREATMENTS - which are 10 page
story outlines - not even finished scripts and only a few lines of dialogue.

These are the secret components to effective COMMERCIAL writing/story/long copy
and I hope they will improve everyone's copywriting
or at least make it more consistent
after pinpointing what made YOUR BEST STUFF stuff actually work so well
...and maybe things you missed with the "not so good ones".

This is a scientific formula
which can predict the outcome for movies and even ad copy
( except when actors and directors screw it up lol )
( note how many of the best-performing movies are written and directed by the same person )

I was very lucky to have known two screenwriters and had several
well-known Hollywood professionals in my own family who guided me
on what my screenplay needed in order to motivate a purchase.

Here are a few, and you can see how most or all appear in effective copy.

High-concept: Basically - an easily told theme or premise.

- the best ones introduce the hero in his normal life

This is not unlike what the headline does.
Of course, we need to also detail THE END RESULT in a headline
but showing the BEFORE in the headline as well, will tend to increase
conversion rate. This is science.

( They laughed when I sat down at the piano... )

Get it?

The end ( hero ) result is not as effective without the beginning ( normal ).

When you are entertained or ENGAGED by the story, it sure helps.

A HERO or MAIN CHARACTER we will like.
Usually, this is when the character is MUCH LIKE US

And so much better if they started "Normal" like us and became "Super hero" during the story.

This is why Superman, Spiderman, Harry Potter etc BECAME their hero-selves during the ( original ) story. This is character arc or change.

eg. "Man saves world from evil"
-- "Man risks all to win woman's heart" [ rolls eyes ][ but it sells ]

CHALLENGE - How much crap does the hero need to overcome?
The more, the better.

I lost my job and I was about to lose my house.
my wife was about to divorce me
and even my favorite strip-club went out of business
[ haha - sorry - just makin' sure you're paying attention. lol 0

But seriously.
Good copy presents challenges - they are the things that
put us on the edge and keep attention to see how it works out.
"It was so easy for me to make $$$"
rather - they'd prefer to know the difficulties - like in REAL LIFE.

You can't get a burger like this anywhere else!
That's a real, believable ( and serious ) challenge for people who are burger lovers. It built Burger King - who let you Have it your way vs, McD who only served production models - it actually forced them to begin custom orders.

Think of a movie where there wasn't much of a challenge.
Was it popular? ( Can you even think of one? )
Now think of big challenges - Star Wars - Avatar - Harry Potter did they do? ( Even if YOU didn't like them )

And finally - the most important part of typical copy
( sales letters or response ads )

CHARACTER ARCS, showing the change in the character's self.

Some times these can be implied for the customer
without going into detail.

"Make $984,785.00 in two seconds"
"Fix your ________ now! "
"Fix your ________ in 3 days!"

But the essence is to show how the character
( and perhaps even his/her family )
went from being Normal to Super
( like Luke Skywalker went from farm boy
to hero of the galaxy, Jedi Knight
and Harry Potter went from geeky kid
to hero of the hero Wizard )

I was a newly single mom with two kids, no job, no experience
and less than $20 in the bank. I was scared I might not be able
to feed my kids and keep a roof over our heads.
I was terrified that I would lose my babies
and I felt very alone.

But then I found ....

They laughed when I sat down at the piano.
But when I started to play...

CHARACTER ARC is the most important part of engaging with story.

That goes for films, books, and character-driven copy such as sales letters
- even short ones.

This is why "after" testimonials work so well
and even better when they include a "before".
#arc #character #copy #mikehumphreys
  • Profile picture of the author MontelloMarketing
    I have no idea what any of this has to do with Humphries... or with wildly underpriced design and hosting...

    But I wrote professionally in Hollywood for 20 years. Also sold a couple treatments... a few tv shows... and worked on staff on a few others...

    Everything this discount host dude says about story jives with the truth I know.

    Nice going.
    The Montello Group
    Your Premier Conversion Cooperative

    Join Us For Free Conversion Webinars
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by MontelloMarketing View Post

      I have no idea what any of this has to do with Humphries... or with wildly underpriced design and hosting...

      But I wrote professionally in Hollywood for 20 years. Also sold a couple treatments... a few tv shows... and worked on staff on a few others...

      Everything this discount host dude says about story jives with the truth I know.

      Nice going.
      RefundHost disagreed with gjabiz, and MikeHumphreys took him to task. This thread is a continuation of that exchange.

      In case you care, this is the thread:

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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned're desperately trying to impress us here - and failing miserably.

    This is a scientific formula which can predict the outcome for movies and even ad copy
    Right. I guess that's why so many Hollywood movies written to the formula bomb huh?

    "Nobody knows anything" - William Goldman ("Marathon Man", "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid", "All the Presidents Men" etc)
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    @refundhost - sounds like some interesting work you do.

    I was reading a book some time ago that was written by a screen writer -- it had some really interesting info in it.

    It was called "Writing For Emotional Impact" by Karl Iglesias.

    As a screenwriter, he has a lot of good tips that can be used for any type of writing.

    I also came across a website where people could sell their screen plays, etc.

    Anyone, even novices, could put their piece up for sale. Some were going for some pretty good bucks -- from what I could gather, some had been turned into movies.

    I can't remember the website now -- there are several like it though.
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    • Profile picture of the author arfasaira

      No personal insult here intended at all - I am simply pointing out a fact.

      This 'formula' is old hat and nothing new. I covered this EXACT formula in college at the tender age of 16 during my 'A' Level English literature class. We went through it in detail when we did Hamlet and Othello.

      The fact is, you can still have all these things in place and still end up with a bad movie.
      It isn't proof that you have a winning film, although makes success more likely.

      Off the top of my head - Independence Day. Sheer stupidity. Big money, all the formula bits in tow and well...big flop.

      Superman 4 was the same.

      And yes, I know what you'll say - bad directing blah blah but the fact remains that even winning formulas sometimes fail.

      And like Gordon mentioned in another post, you just don't know.
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      Hey Refund (Sorry I don't know your real first name),

      Good job stepping up and putting together a quality thread... I'd love to see more threads in this copywriting forum addressing story telling, script writing (alot of application to online sales videos and infomercials) as they are sorely unappreciated elements of selling and copywriting.

      Maybe you (or someone else like Vin) will decide to share some of their wisdom/experience/expertise in those areas with everyone... I think most of us would appreciate it.

      As a sidenote... I probably won't be on Warrior Forum the rest of this week as Hurricane Irene was "kind enough" to deposit 2+ inches in my house's basement & family room.

      When I'm not working on the client projects already on my desk, I'll be eye-ball deep in insurance adjusters, contractors, etc instead. (Believe me, hanging out in a forum like this would be a helluva lot more fun).

      Take care,

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