What a Copywriter can learn from a Screenwriter

by Raydal
12 replies
About a year ago I attended a seminar where screenwriter Michael Hauge was
a key speaker. He did a presentation on how marketers can use the principles
of screenwriting (strory telling) to sell more. I was fascinated!

So much so that I followed his "template" to structure an entire sales letter
(about 30 pages) and the letter did over 20% conversion on the first launch.

You can find the cheat-sheet for his teaching at his site:

https://www.storymastery.com/article...play-structure

It's definitely worth a read/study. I know a couple of the copywriters
here were screenwriters in a past life, so it would be interesting to
get their take.

-Ray Edwards
#copywriter #learn #screnwriter
  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    A couple years ago, Mike Humphreys was telling me about how the scene/stage progression of thrillers and horror stories has influenced his copywriting. He's always telling me about some fiction book I should read.

    Something to think about and research.

    Thanks, Ray.

    - Rick Duris

    PS: Also Kevin Rodgers has a book due out about his 60-socond hook idea. Its stages are identitiy-->struggle-->discovery-->result. I'm oversimplifying admittedly, but that's the gist.
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    • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
      Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

      A couple years ago, Mike Humphreys was telling me about how the scene/stage progression of thrillers and horror stories has influenced his copywriting. He's always telling me about some fiction book I should read.

      Something to think about and research.

      Thanks, Ray.

      - Rick Duris

      PS: Also Kevin Rodgers has a book due out about his 60-socond hook idea. Its stages are identitiy-->struggle-->discovery-->result. I'm oversimplifying admittedly, but that's the gist.
      Good one.

      It took some searching but I finally remembered a book Mike recommends called "The Secrets of Action Screenwriting" here:

      http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...ml#post8638576

      Here is the Amazon link:
      The Secrets Of Action Screenwriting: William C....The Secrets Of Action Screenwriting: William C....
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      Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
      - Jack Trout
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

      A couple years ago, Mike Humphreys was telling me about how the scene/stage progression of thrillers and horror stories has influenced his copywriting. He's always telling me about some fiction book I should read.

      Something to think about and research.

      Thanks, Ray.

      - Rick Duris

      PS: Also Kevin Rodgers has a book due out about his 60-socond hook idea. Its stages are identitiy-->struggle-->discovery-->result. I'm oversimplifying admittedly, but that's the gist.
      I'm not the only one. Herschell Gordon Lewis is/was a pretty successful copywriter (he's in his mid 80's as I type this so he may be retired) who was a pretty big name in the horror film genre too... his movie-related nickname is the "Godfather of Gore".

      As a copywriter, we're trying to draw prospects in early and keep their attention until they reach a buying decision. Sometimes that's only a few minutes. Other times, maybe it's a 30-40 minutes. But films have to hold their attention for at least 90 minutes, sometimes even as long as 3 hours. That's pretty amazing when you consider numerous research studies have shown that most adults lose attention (granted it's in an educational setting) in about 45 minutes.

      A fiction book is pulling the reader through hundreds of pages. Depending on how fast the person reads, it could take them hours or even days to finish a book.

      Either way, films or books have to hook people early and keep them engaged all the way to the conclusion. In their case, it's the end of the film or book. In our case, it's the prospect making a buying decision and hopefully it's one in our favor.

      Things like transitions, pacing, cliffhangers, dialogue are pretty frequent in a movie or fiction book. There's a number of screenwriting "tricks of the trade" which work great in copywriting too.
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    Love it. I remember being taught a variation of the same basic progression within a three act structure. The real key isn't the problem-opportunity, because if you give the hero a princess to save and he walks up the stairs, all you have is a really ******* boring story.

    The real star of the story is the part where the opportunity turns into progress-higher stakes-setback/struggle. It echoes something we've all experience - someone just trying to accomplish something and things don't go as planned.

    It's a fantastic setup for pulling the reader into the pitch you're making. They root for you by the end, like they'd root for any hero.

    Dig it.
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    • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
      Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

      The real key isn't the problem-opportunity, because if you give the hero a princess to save and he walks up the stairs, all you have is a really ******* boring story.
      Could be, but not necessarily true.

      Let's say the princess is a reluctant, pre-ice queen biatch and the hero's mission is to save her. (Melting her heart in the process.)

      This story line works a lot in the pickup community when they're confronted with indifferent girls. Ask me how I know.

      And yes, you can create drama/emotion out of walking up a flight of stairs. In fact, you want to. It's the best time to.

      When you read the book Joe posted up, you'll discover simple things are often the best for creating emotion. For instance, which is more emotional for the reader? Seeing someone put their hand on a hot stove or seeing someone being decapitated by a light saber?

      - Rick Duris

      PS: Edgar Allan Poe was a master at taking something ordinary/commonplace and making it as scary as hell.


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      • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
        Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

        Could be, but not necessarily true.

        Let's say the princess is a reluctant, pre-ice queen biatch and the hero's mission is to save her. (Melting her heart in the process.)

        This story line works a lot in the pickup community when they're confronted with indifferent girls. Ask me how I know.

        And yes, you can create drama/emotion out of walking up a flight of stairs. In fact, you want to. It's the best time to.

        When you read the book Joe posted up, you'll discover simple things are often the best for creating emotion. For instance, which is more emotional by the reader? Seeing someone their hand on a hot stove or being decapitated by a light saber?

        - Rick Duris

        PS: Edgar Allan Poe was a master at taking something ordinary/commonplace and making it as scary as hell.

        True, I hadn't really thought of it that way. I'd literally thought, "What would make for a really boring story?"

        Keep in mind that my brain often times goes SUPER literal (which makes for interesting road trips when one encounters signs like "Speed enforced by aircraft" and my brain yells "THE AIRPLANES WANT US TO SPEED").

        So I came up with plain ol', boring Hero walks up flight of stairs, opens door, walks away with princess. The end. SUPER boring in my mind.

        But there are definitely little twists that could be added to instantly make it interesting.

        Thanks for the added clarity

        Side note: I've often wondered if I should position myself as the ADD copywriter. What I scream (ideas off the top of my head) is what you get.
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        • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
          Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

          Keep in mind that my brain often times goes SUPER literal (which makes for interesting road trips when one encounters signs like "Speed enforced by aircraft" and my brain yells "THE AIRPLANES WANT US TO SPEED").
          Here's another good one...
          SLOW
          Children
          At Play
          Alex
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        • Profile picture of the author TracyBelshee
          Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post


          Keep in mind that my brain often times goes SUPER literal (which makes for interesting road trips when one encounters signs like "Speed enforced by aircraft" and my brain yells "THE AIRPLANES WANT US TO SPEED").
          Yeah, and I'm always wondering why the keys aren't left in all the publicly owned vehicles I see around town too. As a tow driver I've got the tools to get in, but I never quite got the hot wiring thing down...
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          I may be riding a trike, but it's a badass trike.

          **CAUTION**
          Advice and opinions in the post above are from an amateur. Stay back 50 feet, salt shaker at the ready.
          You've been warned.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
    Vin Montello had (has) a pretty nifty 3-act screenwriting structure that he used a lot in his early letters. I swiped it like crazy for a while.
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  • Profile picture of the author Marvin Johnston
    Something that applies to the above discussions (and life in general) is the title of a book about Steve Jobs... The Journey is the Reward.

    Marvin
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