Do you have a true story that you think would make a great TV show, movie or book? Something that happened to you or a loved one in real life that could help, inspire or even amuse others? Maybe you want to let the world know about a rare illness, a miscarriage of justice or the hardships your ancestors went through to come to this country and succeed against all odds… Well, here are a few simple steps you can take to write a compelling summary that will catch the eyes of a Hollywood producer or New York publisher or How Do I Sell My Story for Cash
Jot down the basic facts of your story. Describe your main character(s) — age, gender and what characteristics make them special. Make sure to note the setting and time frame in which the story takes place.
Identify the genre or general type of story you’re telling – does it involve comedy or drama, romance or action?
Come up with a title and a concise and catchy one-sentence summary. This is called a logline. Here are some examples: “A Beautiful Mind” — Handsome and arrogant genius John Forbes Nash Jr. stands on the brink of international acclaim after making an astonishing mathematical find, but soon finds himself on a painful and harrowing journey of self-discovery that takes its toll on his devoted wife. “Rescue Dawn” is based on the amazing true story of Dieter Dengler, the only American to ever break out of a POW camp in the Laotian jungle. “The Pianist” — A Polish Jewish musician struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. “Numb” — A chronically depressed screenwriter desperately tries to cure his condition when he meets the girl of his dreams.
Compile the basic facts you’ve jotted down into a 1 to 3 page document. Most producers have a very short attention span, so you want to be concise, and not too detailed. You want to give them just enough information to whet their whistles and get them interested and excited about your story. Only hit the high points–-the beginning, middle and end. For the beginning, describe the goal of your main character. This can be something like surviving war, disaster, crime or illness; winning the big game; or finding Mr. or Ms. Right. In the middle section, talk about the obstacles that person had to face and the conflicts that arose while trying to achieve their goal (surprise attacks, family separations, money problems, injuries, prejudice, injustice, heartache). Try to be as specific as possible. Finally, tell how your main character overcame those obstacles in the end, achieving their goal, while learning a valuable lesson about life.
Go to True Stories Hollywood. It’s a website set up by a Hollywood producer and manager to help get your story in front of pre-screened, pre-qualified producers, movie and television executives, agents and publishers. It’s free to join, though you must pay a small $50 fee to post your story. But you’ve already done all the hard work above. Now just enter it into the site’s template. You can even upload video and pictures. If you’ve already written or published a memoir, mazel tov! You can post a synopsis of it on the site as well. If you’re uncertain of your storytelling skills, they even have a team of experienced Hollywood writers who will help you craft the perfect pitch for a small extra fee.
Check out a few the producers that have already signed up to use the website to find their next great project – David Permut, producer of “Face/Off” and “My Mom’s New Boyfriend;” Harris Goldberg, “Deuce Bigelow, American and European Gigolo” and “Numb;” and Toni Perling, whose fact-based teleplays have been seen on Lifetime and NBC. If an industry professional is interested, they will contact you by the method you indicate on your profile.
Make sure you include how your characters were feeling at each stage of the story – were they scared, excited, frustrated? Great movies make you feel emotions. You want your true story to appeal to the emotions of your readers, the Hollywood professionals that will be interested in buying your story.
* Make sure the true story is based on you, a family member, or a close friend whose prior permission you’ve received to tell their story.
* Don’t post stories (true or not) about famous people unless you can prove you are a close associate.