Which came first, this idea or this blog itself?

10 years ago, I started this blog.

9 years ago, I came up with an idea for an original musical about a 40-year-old guy who gets his high school garage band back together.

And tonight, that show, Gettin’ The Band Back Together, a totally original musical (!), starts previews on Broadway.

I tell you this for a few reasons . . .

First, duh, I want you to come.  From the feedback I’ve gotten on this blog, original musicals are what you want more of, but they are also the ones that need ambassadors like you to come and come early.  So do.  And to make it easy, here’s a link to a 50% off ticket (use code BT501GA, as cheap as the TKTS booth) for 30 performances only.

Second, I hope what’s happening tonight reminds all of you out there that it is possible for a seed of an idea that you’ve had to get to Broadway, or wherever your goal is.  Every time you think it isn’t possible (and believe me, I thought that many times along the long road to our first preview), just remember that it is.  Because it happens.  Not just to me but to many others, every single year.

And if it can happen to others, including me, then why not you?  I promise you, I’m no more special than any of you out there.

You’ll need a lot of help from a lot of folks to make it happen (I could take up 10 years of blog posts thanking all the people who have helped me get to tonight).  And it may take a little more time than you would like, but it can happen.  And it’ll be worth it.

Need proof?  Come see Gettin’ The Band Back Together.  You’ll have fun.  But if all that it does is inspire you to realize that it is possible to get an idea of yours out of your head and on to a stage, then that’s fine by me.

Get your 50% off ticket here (with the code BT501GA).  And I’ll see you at the show.

 

 

GUEST BLOG: 5 Ways to Profit from Storytelling By Rebecca Matter

Every year, Saroo Brierley celebrates his birthday on May 22nd. But that wasn’t the day he was born. It was the day he was found.

Saroo grew up in India, and just about every day, he followed his older brother around. One day back in 1986, he fell asleep in an empty train while his big brother was off finding food for the family.

When he woke up several hours later, he was hundreds of miles away in a place he had never seen before. He was alone, hungry, and scared. He cried out for his brother, sister, and mother.

Yet, they were nowhere to be found. It wouldn’t be until 2012, almost 26 years later, that he would find his family. And so is the story of the heartbreaking movie, Lion.

If you’ve seen Lion, then you know how touching Saroo’s story is and the emotions it stirs up. That’s because good stories are hard to resist.

But stories do much more than simply entertain us. They also influence the way we think, and even what we feel. Stories have the power to sway the way we see the world … not to mention our decision-making processes.

That’s why telling a good story is one of the most powerful skills you can have as a writer. And it’s an easy way to make your copy memorable — as well as profitable.

So today, I’m going to show you why good stories are so valuable to businesses … and why they’ll gladly pay you to write those stories!

Let’s say a company puts out a brochure with a list of facts and statistics. Your brain processes that information as an intellectual experience. Interesting and educational, but not necessarily memorable.

You might be able to recall a few of the facts, but probably not all. That’s because informative writing only taps into your cerebral cortex, which is the part of your brain that decodes words into meaning.

A well-told story, on the other hand, takes the reader on an emotional adventure. It involves the language-processing areas of your brain along with many other areas — including your sensory cortex.

The sensory cortex is the part of your brain you’d use if you were actually experiencing the events of a story. It’s the area where you detect sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.

When you’re involved at a sensory level, it’s easy to feel like you’re in the story, which is the reason you remember stories more so than statistics.

And when stories are used in persuasive writing, the story becomes representative of what’s being sold or presented.

Persuasive writers who know how to tell a good story use it to move people to action, whether that means buying a product or service, making a donation, signing up for a free newsletter, or picking up the phone to talk to a member of the company’s customer service team.

And THAT is why good storytellers stand to make a great deal of money.

When most people think of “writing careers,” they think they have two choices:

  1. You can become an author and write books — fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and so on.
  2. Or, you can get yourself a journalism degree and write articles and news stories for newspapers and magazines — either as a freelancer or staff writer.

Both are noble professions that can be very rewarding and garner a lot of respect. Problem is, they’re hard work. They’re highly competitive. You need to spend a lot of time getting very good at what you do. And, unless you’re among the elite, the pay is typically pretty average at best.

Fortunately, the kind of writing I do isn’t either of those two … although there are elements of storytelling and reporting in what I do.

And, even though you see the type of writing I do every day — in the mail, on the Internet, in magazines and newspapers — few people stop to consider who’s writing it … and just how lucrative of a career it can be.

Master Copywriter Mark Morgan Ford, the man who’s mentored hundreds of up-and-coming writers in this field, put it perfectly some years ago:

“You’re a good writer if you can write a story that can make people cry… you’re a better writer if your writing can make people laugh… but, if your writing can persuade people to take action — that’s when you know you can be a very wealthy writer.”

That, in a nutshell, is what we do.

We persuade people to take action — whether it’s to request some more information, support a cause, read a special report, buy a product, and so on. It may just be some well-written text for an email you send a potential customer … an ad in a publication … a website landing page … or a personal letter written to someone with an interest in the product you’re offering. But, it all boils down to good, conversational, persuasive writing.

Now, if writing is your dream, this type of writing – copywriting – can enable you to get paid well for your writing and give you time to work on your creative pursuits.

There’s a basic formula to copywriting. It’s a secret structure that you’ll find in every piece of good, persuasive writing … one that’s been tested and proven to work millions of times, in millions of ads. A structure anyone can learn and follow.

Once you learn what copywriting is, understand it, and start using it — well, that’s when your life will change dramatically.

Because the fact is, once you can write a letter, an ad, or a web page that persuades, you’ll have a financially-valuable skill that will reward you for life! And here’s how…

5 Paid Writing Projects that Benefit From Good Storytelling

1. Case Studies

Fees: $1,250-$2,000

Case studies are success stories that detail a customer’s experience with a company’s products or services.

Their goal is to tell the story of how a company or individual solved a challenge using a product or service. In other words, a “before-and-after” story.

If you have a journalistic background or mindset … this project is ideal for you!

(Go here for expert advice on how to write a case study.)


2. Emails

Fees: $150-$500 (and upwards of $1,250 in B2B, or for more experienced writers)

Companies email prospects and customers on a regular basis — often daily. Stories keep their emails interesting, and encourage readers to engage in a real conversation.

If you like writing short, conversational copy, this is a great opportunity. Along with fitting your style, the frequency of writing emails is very high — so you can make a lot from just a few clients.


3. Social Media Campaigns

Fees: Upwards of $2,000/Month

Social media platforms were built to share stories …

And it’s where companies’ customers and prospects are connecting, researching, and making buying decisions.

As a social media writer, you’ll use stories to grab their attention, and connect on a personal level … to start and then further develop a relationship with the client.


4. Video Marketing

Fee: Upwards of $200 per video minute

Videos are an effective way to connect with any online audience and allow you to tell your story visually.

If you have any desire to teach … or you come from the screenwriting world … this is definitely for you.


5. Websites

Fee: $1,500 to $3,500 for a small website (5-7 pages)

Whether you’re telling the story of how a company first came to be or you’re telling the stories of many satisfied customers, website pages often house a variety of short stories interlaced with a common theme.

As you can see, stories can play a role in every form of copy and content …

Compelling stories entertain, inform, and offer value to readers. Which makes them more likely to connect with your clients and their products and services.

They also cut through the noise, grab people’s attention, and make the messaging more “real.”
So put your storytelling skills to use! Decide which project types interest you most, and get going. And while your stories many not win any literary awards … your clients will certainly value every word you write. And that’s when you’ll see your freelance writing income soar.

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This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI.)

AWAI has been helping writers make a great living doing what they love for over 20 years. If you’d like to learn more about the opportunities above, as well as a few more ways you can get paid to write, go here to download their special report called, It’s True! You Can Make a Very Good Living as a Writer.

In it, you’ll learn everything you need to know about 9 writing assignments that are in big demand today, including what the projects look like, what they pay, and how to land them. Go here now to download your free copy.

Broadway Grosses w/e 7/15/2018: The Heat Is On.

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending July 8, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Prime Day’s Top 10 Theatre Gifts on Amazon!

Special Amazon Prime Day Post y’all!

Amazon Prime Day is one of the biggest online shopping days . . . well, phenomenons really . . . that happens all year! There are deals, deals, deals and if you want to get some early holiday shopping done TODAY is the day to do it!

There are tons of fun products on Amazon that appeal to Writers, Producers, Actors and other theatre professionals, but we’ve selected our top 10 favorite Broadway gift ideas for you.

For theatre students, Broadway fans, and board game enthusiasts. . .

Be A Broadway Star is the popular Broadway board game that puts YOU in the spotlight! It’s like The Game of Life but Broadway-themed. Through interactive “Make or Break” cards and Audition Card challenges, you’ll compete to make it all the way to the Broadway Hall of Fame.

New for 2018: The brand new Expansion Pack features cards from Broadway’s latest hits including Frozen, Mean Girls, Harry Potter & The Cursed Child and Once On This Island.

Buy on Amazon

If you’re looking for something practical. . .

My Broadway Binder is the best way to organize and protect your Broadway playbills in style. With a 3.5” spine, this Broadway playbill binder holds up to 25 show programs when sheets are inserted (sold separately). Cherish your Broadway memories for years to come with this nifty binder!

Buy on Amazon

 

If you’re looking to solve a puzzle. . .

…with your favorite Broadway stars, check out Broadway’s Brightest Stars Puzzle! This 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle features 20 showbiz celebrities famous for their work in shows like Hamilton, Wicked, Dear Evan Hansen and more. Hand Painted by watercolor artist Lacey Hennessey, this puzzle is the perfect gift for Broadway musical theatre buffs and puzzle fanatics alike!

Buy on Amazon

 

For the teen or fashionista in your life. . .

Broadway Nail Art is the fashion-forward way to show off your love for Broadway! Each pack includes 30 nail decals that can be applied in just 20-30 seconds per nail. These sticker tattoos include theater icons like a Tony Award, a Ticket Stub, a Broadway sign and more. The decals come in 3 different sizes, all included on 1 sheet. Give yourself or a fellow Broadway fan a Broadway star-quality polish!

Buy on Amazon

 

If you want to boast about your Broadway memories. . .

This Playbill Frame lets you hang your playbill and ticket stub for the world to see! The mat with insert holds one 5.5 x 8.5-inch Playbill and one ticket stub for easy mounting. Manufactured in Satin Black eco-friendly molding with full strength glass, this frame ensures that your memories last in tip-top shape.

Buy on Amazon

 

If you want a Broadway book to add to your Summer Reading List. . .

How ’bout mine? In “How to Succeed in the Arts. . . or in Anything,” I share the directions that took me years to gather, but the directions that are without a doubt responsible for getting me where I am today. And I know that they can do the same for you. If you’re imagined being a Producer or a Writer…an Actor or a Director. .. or a real estate investor, hedge fund dude, or anything really. . . you can do it with this book.

Buy on Amazon

 

If you want to study up on your musical theatre history. . .

…try acing the nearly 80 quizzes in The Broadway Musical Quiz Book! This book covers everything from the careers of major Broadway stars, songwriters, directors, and producers, ranging from Ethel Merman to Stephen Sondheim. It also features thematic quizzes such as musicals set in France, adaptations from literature, jukebox musicals, and more. With over 7,000 shows mentioned and over 1,200 questions, The Broadway Musical Quiz Book is something for everyone who loves Broadway musicals!

Buy on Amazon

 

If you need some terrific tunes for your summer playlist. . .

. . . look no further than the cast recording of the 2018 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival – Once On This Island. You’ll want to play this Ahrens & Flaherty score on repeat, especially once you hear the voices of Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, Glee’s Alex Newell, Tony nominee Hailey Kilgore, and the entire company on this new Broadway cast recording. Stream or purchase the album – either way, you’ll be hooked. I certainly am  😉

Buy on Amazon

 

For the Diva (ahem..actor) in your life . . .

Send ‘em the hilarious (and stylish) “This Better Not Be My Costume” t-shirt! All actors want to look great in and out of the spotlight and now they can. Available in a variety of cool colors and sizes, your actor friends will love showing off their love of Broadway like a fashionista!

Buy on Amazon

 

For the future Pulitzer Prize Winners . . .

Celebrate the writer in your life with this witty “If I Write, I Can’t Be Wrong” t-shirt! Playwrights deserve to show their passion with pride, too. Available in various colors and sizes, writers really can’t go wrong with this special tee.

Buy on Amazon

 

Happy Prime Day, everyone!

GUEST BLOG: Deconstructing a Song with Kleban Prize winner Amanda Yesnowitz

As the story goes, Dorothy Hammerstein once overheard a man at a lavish NYC event extolling the virtues of “Ol’ Man River.” Correcting the fellow, who attributed the song’s genius to Jerome Kern, she interjected sassily: “Jerome Kern wrote ‘dum, dum, dum-dum.’ My husband wrote ‘Ol’ Man River’.”

Historically, lyricists get the short shrift. But the truth is that when we’re doing our jobs most compellingly, we shouldn’t be noticed at all. Lyrics should feel organically generated by characters, not writers. Still, when we study the musical theatre canon, we can learn a lot from those wordsmiths whose many gifts have helped develop the form. In my mind, Jerry Herman is one those versifiers who falls through the cracks. Certainly, he’s often recognized for being a songwriting stalwart but he is one of the most underrated lyricists in musical theatre and I know exactly why: he makes lyric writing look effortless. His lyrics are all at once character specific and easily extractable. Favoring economy of language, simple song forms, and uncluttered images, Herman is a lyricist of the people. He knows what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, what you’re desiring but he knows how to articulate those thoughts, feelings, and desires better than you ever could.

Sentiment is so difficult to represent at the lyric level lest it become sentimentality— ersatz poetry, generic longing, periwinkle moons. Ick. In order to convey sentiment effectively, the writer must push against it as much as possible, creating tension between the ideas being expressed and the actual vehicle for those expressions.

I chose “I Won’t Send Roses” to deconstruct because it makes me weep every time I hear it. And it’s not because I go into some personal reverie about what the song means to me; it’s because I am always seduced into the world of the song.

For reference, the lyrics are below:

I won’t send roses

Or hold the door

I won’t remember

Which dress you wore

My heart is too much in control

The lack of romance in my soul

Will turn you grey, kid

So stay away, kid

Forget my shoulder

When you’re in need

Forgetting birthdays

Is guaranteed

And should I love you, you would be

The last to know

I won’t send roses

And roses suit you so

 

My pace is frantic

My temper’s cross

With words romantic

I’m at a loss

I’d be the first one to agree

That I’m preoccupied with me

And it’s inbred, kid

So keep your head, kid

In me you’ll find things

Like guts and nerve

But not the kind of things

That you deserve

And so while there’s a fighting chance

Just turn and go

I won’t send roses

And roses suit you so.

 

In terms of structure, we have two A sections. That’s all. No B section. No chorus. No release. Not even a coda. Just two verses with a repeated refrain.

Again, the efficiency of this song astounds me. But its construction is far more intricately crafted than the casual listener might realize.

In general, rhymes whose emphasized syllables are spelled differently (contrOL/sOUL), as well as rhymes that are different parts of speech (wore/door), will always land better on the ear. Really.

This song is comprised almost entirely of rhymes that fall into either category, and in some cases both. Also, when the second verse begins, lines 1 and 3 are rhymed (frantic/romantic) while in the first verse

they are not (though the parallel ‘I won’t’s do ground us). The increased rhyming inherently gives the song momentum without announcing such a build.

We may not realize the shift as it goes by—in fact we shouldn’t realize any of these mechanics while we’re listening—we just know the song works in and of itself as it works on us.

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For a comprehensive look into the art and science of lyric writing, register for Amanda’s upcoming workshop in NYC. The workshop will be held on Wednesday, July 18th and few spots remain. Sign up here!

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AMANDA YESNOWITZ is the Winner of 2018 Kleban Prize, Jonathan Larson Award, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, Dottie Burman Award, Jamie deRoy and Friends Award, and 8 MAC nominations, all for excellence and vision in lyric writing. Selected projects: SOMEWHERE IN TIME (Portland Center Stage world premiere; 7 PAMTA noms; NAMT finalist), BY THE NUMBERS (ASCAP Workshop; Goodspeed’s Mercer Colony), THE HISTORY OF WAR (NYMF invited selection), THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE (Hangar Theatre world premiere). RECORDINGS: “Gotta Start Small” (Stephanie Block, PS Classics; Live from Lincoln Center /PBS/Broadway HD). PODCASTS: LiveWire Radio; Keith Price’s Curtain Call. Notable: Featured writer at the Kennedy Center (ASCAP centennial) and Boston’s Symphony Hall (“No Looking Back” performed by Keith Lockhart and the Pops). Her lyrics have been published in The DramatistTimeNewsdayThe NY Daily NewsThe Sydney Morning Herald, and The New York Times. Strange but true: competitive crossword puzzle solver and published constructor (NY Times, 08/26/12. . . no ordinary Sunday).

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