Sell it in a sentence: Lessons learned from the incomparable Lane Shefter Bishop
As I waited in my favorite Starbucks in West Hollywood with my notebook, pen, and iced vanilla sweet cream coffee in hand, I was trying my best to not let my inner fan-girl come out. After all, I was moments away from interviewing Lane Shefter Bishop, a multifaceted writer, producer, and director. She's also won an Emmy and six Telly Awards, all while also being at the helm of Vast Entertainment, the production behind blockbuster hits like D.U.F.F. and the groundbreaking Lifetime movie, The Choking Game, as its CEO.
If that wasn't enough, another reason why my inner fan-girl was on the verge of making a special guest appearance, was because Lane is also responsible for creating her own niche within the entertainment industry. She's a pioneer in the book-to-screen space, and not to play the gender card, but she's one smart, funny, and inspiring woman creating her own path in a landscape that is usually dominated by men.
As I looked up and Lane walked in, she cared a sense of integrity with her, she has the presence of someone that you want to impress, but with the humility to match. Being as accomplished as she is, she's also gracious enough to share her wisdom with the rest of us in her best-selling new book, Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence: Advice from the Front Lines of Hollywood.
Deemed as Hollywood’s go-to “book whisperer,” Lane shared with me essential lessons and insights to help demystify how some authors transition from pitching to published to production. The secret sauce lies in streamlining your log line - can you get them hooked in a sentence or less? If you're having trouble honing in on your log line, which Lane explains will ultimately be your most lucrative asset in your pursuit to getting your story on the silver screen, then definitely pick-up her book here, and if you need a more personalized approach, you can book some one-on-one time with Lane, here.
In the meantime, read below for how Lane advises to get your story off of the pages and into the theaters, with a simple sentence.
How to create a log line that sells in 50 words or less:
The most paramount ingredients in creating a compelling log line that sells is specificity and uniqueness.
What makes your story stand out against thousands more? Why should we care about what happens in your story above others? If you can hone into why we should care and pay attention in 50 words or less, then you've hit a goldmine.
If you're not sure how to get started, then use the blueprint below that Lane shared with me. In the most unique and specific way possible, answer the three questions below to create a log line that will break-through the noise and clutter of predictable pitches:
#1: Who is the protagonist?
This might be a deceptively simple question, but in Lane's own words, “numerous writers mistakenly put the antagonist as the protagonist of their log lines. I always tell content creators to ask themselves "Whose decisions are moving the story forwards?" and "Who has the most to lose if they fail in their journey?" That character is your protagonist.”
#2: What do they want?
What is the goal that the protagonist? What is he or she trying to achieve? What life or death thing are they fighting for? Make sure this is clearly defined so we know why their story matters.
#3: What's at stake if they don't achieve their goal?
Create a scenario where if his or her goal isn't realized, the consequences are meaningful and real. Make sure that we are invested in whether they win or lose. Make sure that the protagonist has to make a critical decision that matters.
Besides soaking up her delicious stories of how she started, lessons learned, awesome experiences, and how to create a killer log line, the most valuable piece of wisdom that I walked away with was when Lane simply said, "I don't believe in 'no.' I think it means find a different, and better, way."
Those words really struck a chord and I will cherish them forever. If you're like me and need more actionable insights from Lane, then be sure to pick her book, Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence: Advice from the Front Lines of Hollywood, and schedule some time for her to consult with you, here.
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